The Asian Games, the world’s greatest regional sporting extravaganza, began in November 1994 in Hiroshima, Japan.Parading a record 7,300 athletes and officials from 43 of the 45 country members of the Olympic Committee of Asia, the 12th edition of the Games was dubbed the biggest sporting meeting the continent had ever had. Emperor Akihito said upon opening the Games at the Big Arch stadium that the quadrennial event played a pivotal role in paving the way for future Asian leaders to share a common view of a peaceful existence.
In 1994, the Games for the first time included the nations of the former Republics of the Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Also note it is the first time that the Games were held outside the capital city of host country. That year, Iraq was suspended from the Games due to the Gulf War in 1990, while North Korea boycotted the Games due to relation problems. It is also marred by the death of Nepalese delegate Nareshkumar Adhikari during the Game’s opening ceremony. All 45 members affiliated with the Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA) are eligible to take part in the Games. Israel has been excluded from the Games since 1976, due to security reasons. Israel requested to participate in the 1982 Games, but the request was rejected by the organizers due to an incident in 1972 Summer Olympics.Israel is now a member of the European Olympic Committees (EOC).
Due to its continuing ambiguous political status, Taiwan has participated in the Games under the flag of Chinese Taipei since 1990. Macau is allowed to compete as one of the NOCs in Asian Games, despite not being recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for participation in the Olympic Games.
In 2007, the President of OCA, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, rejected the proposal to allow Australia to participate in the Games. He stated that while Australia would add good value to the Asian Games, it would be unfair to the other countries of Oceania.
Only seven countries, namely India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand have competed in all editions of the games.