VIII Asian Winter Games
Host citySapporo and Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan
MottoBeyond Your Ambitions (世界につながる、冬にする, Sekai ni tsunagaru, fuyu ni suru)
Events64 in 11 sports
OpeningFebruary 19, 2017
ClosingFebruary 26, 2017
Opened byNaruhito
Crown Prince of Japan
Closed byTimothy Fok
Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia
Athlete's OathMari Motohashi
Go Tanaka
Judge's OathMasatsugu Odoka
Mai Mizuhori
Torch lighterMasahiko Harada
Main venueSapporo Dome

The 2017 Asian Winter Games (Japanese: 2017アジア冬季競技大会, romanized2017 Ajia tōkikyōgitaikai) was the 8th edition of the Asian Winter Games. They were hosted in Sapporo and Obihiro in Hokkaido, Japan. These Games were originally scheduled for 2015, however, in the Olympic Council of Asia's general assembly in Singapore on 3 July 2009, the committee decided to move the Games to one year before the Winter Olympics moving forward. The games began on 19 February with the opening ceremony (the curling and hockey events begin the day before) and ended with the closing ceremony on 26 February.[1]

Sapporo and Obihiro were named as the host cities on January 31, 2011, as the sole bidding cities. The hosting contract was signed by Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee.[2] It will be the third time that Sapporo will host the event and fourth time in Japan. Previously the city held the two first editions of the Games in 1986 and 1990. Before hosting the first Asian Winter Games, the city was also the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics and the 1991 Winter Universiade.[3]


On 31 January 2011, Sapporo was awarded the right to host the Games. The decision was announced at the OCA's general assembly during the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Astana, Kazakhstan.[2] The bid was announced by Mayor Fumio Ueda on 15 January 2011, with no other bidding city.[4] The total cost is expected to be ¥3.5 billion.[5]

Development and preparation


The Hotel Nikko North and Obihiro served as the athlete's village for the speed skating competitors
Athletes village

Athletes and officials staying at the games stayed at hotels in Sapporo and Obihiro (for speed skating). There was no traditional dedicated village that was built for the games.[6]

Main Media Center

The Main Media Center (MMC) housed both the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) and the Main Press Center (MPC). These were housed at the Sapporo Convention Center.[6]

Competition venues
The Miyanomori Stadium hosted part of the ski jumping competition
Tsukisamu Gymnasium hosted part of the hockey competitions

A total of 13 venues were scheduled to be used for the games. Some of the venues were also used during the 1972 Winter Olympics. All venues were located within the Sapporo region, except the speed skating venue which was in Obihiro.[7]

Venue Sports
Sapporo Dome Opening Ceremony
Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium Ski Jumping
Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium
Shirahatayama Open Stadium Cross Country Skiing
Sapporo Teine Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding
Sapporo Bankei Ski Area Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding
Nishioka Biathlon Stadium Biathlon
Tsukisamu Gymnasium Hockey
Mikaho Gymnasium
Hoshioki Ice Skating Rink
Sapporo Curling Stadium Curling
Obihiro Forest Speed Skating Oval Speed Skating
Makomanai Ice Arena Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Closing Ceremony


The medal design was revealed on December 21, 2016. The medals were cut using diamonds and the three stars on them are curved to look like ice. The three stars are meant to represent athletes as "Stars of Hope". The diamond-cut surface is also meant to represent the fresh air in the winter along with the snow and ice seen across Hokkaido.[8][9] The medals are 55 millimetres (2.2 in) in diameter and 4.5 millimetres (0.18 in) thick. The three kind of medals also weight differently, with the gold (109.1 grams (3.85 oz)) weighing the most, followed by silver (107.1 grams (3.78 oz)) and finally bronze (87.9 grams (3.10 oz)).[10]


The pre-sale of tickets for select events and the opening ceremony started on September 12, 2016, while tickets went on general sale for all events on November 14, 2016.[11] Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboard parallel events, speed skating and the third division of the men's hockey tournament were free admission. Tickets start around ¥500. The most expensive tickets at ¥9,000 are to the closing ceremony.[12][13] With a month to go till the start of the games, only 30% of tickets were sold. The only event to be sold out at that time was the men's halfpipe competition in snowboarding, which resulted in more tickets being released for the event.[14]

Torch relay

Sapporo's Odori Park hosted the torch lighting ceremony

The torch was lit on February 5 at the Sapporo Snow Festival being held at the Odori Park located in central Sapporo. The ceremony involved a lighting ritual presentation made by the Ainu people, indigenous from Hokkaido island . The relay in itself only lasted one day (on February 6), with the closing of the day seeing the Kamuinomi, which was one of main rituals of the Ainu people. The ritual involved praying for the success of all the athletes taking part in the games. From February 7 to the 17th, the flame be split and then displayed at the City Halls of both Sapporo and Obihiro, as well as the 10 ward offices of Sapporo. The main cauldron was in on front of the Sapporo City Hall and also used for the 1972 Winter Olympics torch relay local celebrations, until one hour before the Closing Ceremony, on February 26,when the games main cauldron was relighted.[15][16]

The Games

Opening ceremony

See also: 2017 Asian Winter Games Parade of Nations

The Sapporo Dome hosted the opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the games took place on 19 February at the Sapporo Dome. The show included a special performance by Japanese pop band Dreams Come True.[13] In addition to the traditional protocol elements, this ceremony was marked by innovative elements such as the schedule and the holding of two award ceremonies that had to be brought forward due to the Games calendar among the cultural elements that the Ainu people was invited to be part.[6][17]

Closing ceremony

The closing ceremony of the games took place on 26 February at the conclusion of the men's event in the figure skating. The ceremony was held at the Makomanai Ice Arena and also included an exhibition gala by some of the figure skaters who took part in competition.[12]


64 events across 11 winter sport disciplines, were scheduled in the 2017 Asian Winter Games program. The five ice sports are curling, figure skating, speed skating, short-track speed skating and ice hockey.Present at the 2011 edition:bandy and Ski orienteering were dropped by the Organizing Committee. The five snow sports are alpine, biathlon cross-country, freestyle, ski jumping, and snowboarding. Due to infrastructure issues and also established in the OCA regulations, four sports that are on the program for the Winter Olympics were not part of the program for this edition: bobsleigh, luge, Nordic combined, and skeleton. Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of medal events contested in each sports discipline.

Participating teams

A map of the 30 participating NOCs from Asia. Australia and New Zealand are not shown

32 NOCs (including the two invited Oceania NOCs) competed.[18] Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Vietnam made their debuts.[18][19] Three additional countries were scheduled to participate: Afghanistan (did not submit entries by the deadline), Cambodia and Iraq (were not members of the International Skating Union, and thus their application to participate was rejected).

After competing at the last edition of the games, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Palestine did not compete here. On the other hand, after missing the last edition, both Macau and Pakistan competed here. Bahrain originally entered a men's ice hockey team but later withdrew, after the government did not approve of the expense of sending the team to the games, amidst a drop in oil prices.[20]

In September 2016, it was announced athletes from Oceania were invited to compete.[21][22] Countries from Oceania are however listed separately as they are not deemed as official competitors, but are considered as invited guest athletes (therefore they are not eligible for medals).[22]

The Kuwait Olympic Committee was suspended in October 2015, due to political interference. Therefore, the athletes from the country is scheduled to compete under the Olympic flag as Independent Olympic Athletes.[23][24]

The numbers in parentheses represents the number of participants entered.

Participating National Olympic Committees
Olympic Council of Asia members
Oceania National Olympic Committees members


Competitions will start the day before the opening ceremony on the 18th, and ending with the figure skating men's free program and closing ceremony. The full schedule can be seen below.[25]

OC Opening ceremony Event competitions 1 Event finals CC Closing ceremony
February 18th
Ceremonies OC CC
Alpine skiing 1 1 2 4
Biathlon 2 2 1 2 7
Cross-country skiing 2 2 2 2 2 10
Curling 2 2
Figure skating 1 2 1 4
Freestyle skiing 2 2 4
Ice hockey 1 1 2
Short-track speed skating 2 2 4 8
Ski jumping 1 1 1 3
Snowboarding 2 2 2 6
Speed skating 4 4 3 3 14
Total events 2 10 9 8 8 10 9 8 64
Cumulative total 2 12 21 29 37 47 56 64
February 18th

Medal table


  *   Host nation (Japan)

1 Japan (JPN)*27212674
2 South Korea (KOR)16181650
3 China (CHN)1214935
4 Kazakhstan (KAZ)9111232
5 North Korea (PRK)0011
Totals (5 entries)646464192



Ezomon, the official mascot.

The official mascot of the 2017 Asian Winter Games is named Ezomon. Ezomon is modeled after a very special type of flying squirrel only found in the Hokkaido region of Japan. Ezomon sports a red scarf and a blue cape with the logo of the 2017 Asian Winter Games on it.[27]


There are three tiers of sponsorship for the games, plus the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) sponsors.[28][29]

Sponsors of the 2017 Asian Winter Games
Golden Partners
Official partners
Official sponsors

Concerns and controversies

APA Hotel

One of the athletes hotels is the APA Hotel in Sapporo. The founder and president of this hotel chain, Toshio Motoya, who is a strong supporter of political and historical view aligned with those of Japan's right wing. For example, Motoya claimed that "Japanese aggression, the Nanking Massacre, and comfort women" were "fabricated stories" or "fictitious". His book is available in each of the guest rooms at the hotel. This created controversy, particularly in China, which caused the games organizers to ask the hotel to take appropriate actions and remove them from guest rooms.[30][31] The Organizing Committee will gain exclusive access over the hotel from February 12, and an organization committee official said, "we can decide what is removed and placed in the guest rooms so that we don’t place any items that offend athletes, from not only China, but also any other nation”.[32] Eventually both South Korea and China requested that their athletes stay at a different hotel, and the organizing committee obliged by changing their accommodations to the Sapporo Prince Hotel.[33][34]


This event is being held around World and other major championships of some of the sports being contested. Included in this is the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2017 being held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, till 19 February (the opening of the games). Due to this some teams including among others Lebanon, have decided to not send their best team.[35] The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2017 in Lahti, Finland will also happen during the games (between February 22 and March 5) which has caused Iran to not send a cross-country skiing team at all.[36] Also, the reason cited for low ticket sales, is that many top athletes chose to focus on the world championships of their various disciplines.[14]


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  2. ^ a b "Sapporo, Obihiro named 2017 Winter Asiad co-hosts". Japan Today. 2011-02-01. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  3. ^ Bauer, Aaron (30 September 2014). "Sapporo 2017 Aims to Grow Asian Winter Games". Around the Rings. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Asian Games: Sapporo making bid for Asian Winter Games". Deccan Chronicle. 2010-12-29. Archived from the original on 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
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  9. ^ "Sapporo 2017 reveals medal design for Asian Winter Games". Olympic Council of Asia. 29 December 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Winters, Max (30 December 2016). "Sapporo 2017 unveil official medals of the Games". Dunsar Media. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
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  13. ^ a b "Asian Winter Games offers free entry to skiing events". Glen Wheeler Ltd. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Tickets for upcoming Asian Winter Games in Hokkaido selling slowly". Mainichi Shimbun. Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
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  17. ^ "Ruggiero supports holding Opening Ceremonies earlier after Sapporo 2017 innovation". Inside the Games. Inside The Games. 20 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
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  20. ^ "Bahrain renounces to Asian Winter Games". European Ice Hockey Online AB & s.r.o. 12 February 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  21. ^ Morgan, Liam (30 October 2016). "Athletes from Oceania granted permission to compete at Sapporo 2017 by Organising Committee". Dunsar Media. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Australia to send 34 athletes to OCA's 8th Asian Winter Games Sapporo 2017". Around the Rings. 14 November 2016. Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  23. ^ "Suspension of the Kuwait Olympic Committee". International Olympic Committee. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  24. ^ "IOC bans Kuwait over government interference in Olympic movement". The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  25. ^ "Sapporo 2017 Schedule" (PDF). SAWOG 2017 (Sapporo Asian Winter Games Organizing Committee). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-01-01. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Medal Standings". 8th Sapporo Asian Winter Games Organising Committee. Archived from the original on 2017-02-22.
  27. ^ "Sapporo 2017 entry deadline approaches for NOCs". Olympic Council of Asia. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Sponsors". SAWGOG 2017 (Sapporo Asian Winter Games Organizing Committee). Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  29. ^ Morgan, Liam (24 November 2016). "Sapporo 2017 sign sponsorship deal with Toppan Forms". Dunsar Media. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  30. ^ Liping, Gu (20 January 2017). "2017 Asian Winter Games organizer ask Japan's APA hotel to remove right-wing books". China News Service. Beijing, China. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  31. ^ "Asian Games organizer asks Apa Group to take steps on Nanking Massacre denial book". The Japan Times. Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Asian Winter Games organizer tries to calm row over APA book". The Asahi Shimbun. Tokyo, Japan. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  33. ^ "S. Korea athletes not to stay in APA hotel during Asian Winter Games". The Japan Times. Tokyo, Japan. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  34. ^ "Chinese athletes not to stay in APA hotel during Asian Winter Games". Xinhua News Agency. China. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  35. ^ "Qualification Procedure for the International Ski Championships". Sports961. 5 January 2017. Archived from the original on 6 January 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  36. ^ "اعزام ملی‌پوشان اسکی صحرانوردی به مسابقات جهانی/تکلیف ایران در بازی‌های زمستانی مشخص شد" [Sending international, cross-country skiing World became clear what Iran will send]. Fars News Agency (in Persian). Tehran, Iran. 15 January 2017. Archived from the original on 23 February 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
Preceded byAstana and Almaty Asian Winter GamesSapporo VIII Asian Winter Games (2017) Succeeded byHarbin