THE BIG PICTURE: Asian Games ready to start in Indonesia

One of the world’s largest and most intense sporting events will start Saturday at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia: the 18th Asian Games.

Hosted for the first time in two cities – Jakarta (also host in 1962) and Palembang – Indonesia took over when Hanoi (VIE) withdrew in 2014 due to the financial burden of the event.

The event will include from 10,500-11,000 athletes from the 45 nations that comprise the Olympic Council of Asia, the largest athlete contingent ever for the Asiad, which began in 1951. The three-year suspension of the National Olympic Committee in Kuwait was lifted just in time for the country to compete in Indonesia. The teams from North and South Korea are expected to march together in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The sports program is absolutely massive and dwarfs the Olympic event schedule. Some 465 events are to be held in 40 sports, including Bridge, Jet Ski, Kabaddi, five styles of Martial Arts, Paragliding and Sepak Takraw, not to mention the demonstration sports of eSports and Canoe Polo.

The Games budget is reportedly $3.2 billion U.S. and will run through 2 September.