1974 Asian Games MAG WAG

1974: The Men’s and Women’s Competitions at the Asian Games

Gymnastics was new to the Asian Games in 1974, and there were a few surprises.

First, China was present. Though China was competing in more dual meets in countries like Romania and the United States, China was not part of the FIG or the IOC at the time due to the organizations’ recognition of Taiwan. The organizers of the Asian Games broke ranks by inviting China and revoking Taiwan’s membership. This was a big deal at the time. (More on that below.)

Second, China had quite the medal haul. On the women’s side, Chinese gymnasts swept the all-around podium, and on the men’s side, China won the men’s team title, beating Japan. The competition was held just weeks before the World Championships in Varna — with the Asian Games happening in early September and the World Championships in late October. As a result, Japan did not send its top gymnasts to the Asian Games, and to make matters worse, one of Japan’s gymnasts tore his Achilles during the first event.

As you’ll see below, Arthur Gander, the president of the FIG, took an essentialist position and attributed China’s success to their bodies, stating, “A Chinese is a very well-formed human being, better formed than a Japanese, for instance.” (Because all Chinese people have the same body?)

Finally — and maybe this is less of a surprise — there was reportedly tension between the North and South Korean delegations.

Jiang Shaoyi

Quick Links: Men’s Results | Women’s Results | The FIG’s Stance on China | Japan’s Perspective | China’s Perspective | Confrontation between North and South Korea | Arthur Gander’s Perspective | Video | China’s Involvement in the Asian Games

Men’s Results


1. China277.90
2. Japan275.90
3. North Korea273.55
Official Report of the Seventh Asian Games, Tehran, September 1-16, 1974

Unless otherwise indicated, all results are from the Official Report.

A further breakdown of China’s scores:

Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily), September 04, 1974


1. Horide,
2. Cai,
3. Lee,


1. Horide,
2. Song,
3. Kim,
Sung Il

Pommel Horse

1. Cai,
2. Yang,
3. Kim,


1. Kim,
2. Liao,
3. Song,


1. Horide,
2. Cai,
3. Nozawa,

Parallel Bars

1. Lee,
2. Nozawa,
3. Cai,

High Bar

1. Cai,
2. Horide,
3. Pan,

Women’s Results


North Korea186.95

Further breakdown of China’s scores:

Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily), September 04, 1974


1. Jiang,
2. Ning,
3. Xin,


1. Yoshida,
2. Hwang,
3. Jo,

Uneven Bars

1T. Jo,
1T. Jiang,
3. Hwang,

Balance Beam

1. Jiang,
2. Xin,
3. Jo,

Floor Exercise

1. Jiang,
2. Ning,
3. Jo,

FIG’s Stance on China’s Inclusion

The FIG was not pleased that the People’s Republic of China was invited instead of Taiwan. (Reminder: China had left the FIG in 1964 over the “Two Chinas” policy.) Here’s what was recorded in the FIG’s bulletin:

In order to take part in the Asiatic Games, the federations must belong to this organization. As Taiwan no longer belongs to the “Federation for Asiatic Games,” it is decided by applying Art. 12 of the FIG statutes that there is nothing to prevent the gymnasts of the People’s Republic of China [from] participating in the Asiatic Games. However, the Executive Committee in its entirely [sic] deplores the fact that the organizatory committee has not seen fit to invite Taiwan who is a member of he [sic] FIG.

Bulletin of Information, no. 2, 1974

This was from the Extract from the Minutes of the Executive Commitee Meetings held in Bienne April 10-14, 1974

Note: This was published before the competition began. You can read Arthur Gander’s thoughts after the competition below.

Japan’s Perspective

Japan decided to send the country’s top gymnasts only to the World Championships, and when Igarashi Takeo tore his Achilles tendon during the first event, the team found themselves in a pickle. Here’s what the Japan Times, an English-language newspaper, reported.

Injury May Have Cost Japan Gold: Official

Toshihiko Sasano, vice president of the Japan Gymnastic Association and sport supervisor of the Japanese delegation in the Asian Games village, said in a telephone interview that Takeo Igarashi, 23, cut [i.e torn] his Achilles tendo[n] in his right leg in the first event, the floor exercise, and had to withdraw.

Sasano said Igarashi would undergo an operation Wednesday and would not be able to compete for at least a year.

Sasano said another top competitor, Kenji Igarashi, 23, was not in top form because he had injured his right hip while training four days ago.

“I do not intend to offer any excuse for our team’s defeat,” Sasano said.

Sasano said Japan’s top competitors in both men’s and women’s teams did not come to Tehran because they are in Japan training for the world championships in Bulgaria next month.

“We are in no way making light of the Asian Games but we have what we think a more important objective of preparing for the men’s teams fourth straight victory in the World Championships and also for the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976.

“The World Championships in Bulgaria next month have an important bearing on our competition in the Montreal Olympics,” Sasano said.

Sasano said the gymnastic men and women’s team events for the World Championships and the Asian Games were selected on Aug. 1.

“We didn’t want to take any chance of injuring in Tehran our competitors in the World Championships,” Sasano said.

“We are aware of the caliber of the Chinese in gymnastics,” Sasano said. “We went to China for two weeks in July. As a courtesy to them, we had our top member[s] compete. We won without difficulty.”

“We brought some of our most promising young competitors here and we believed we could beat the Chinese in the men’s team event,” Sasano said. “As for the women’s team event, we thought the Chinese would be better because they are somewhat superior to the Japanese.”

Japan Times, September 5, 1974

China’s Perspective

“Friendship first, competition second” was the official mantra as Chinese athletes began competing globally, and it was through that lens that Chinese newspapers reported on the gymnastics competition at the Asian Games.

You can see that sentiment in one newspaper’s report on the women’s all-around:

Results of our athletes on September 4

According to Xinhua News Agency, Tehran, September 4, 1974, tonight, three five-star red flags were raised simultaneously in the gymnasium of the 7th Asian Games. Chinese gymnasts Jiang Shaoyi, Ning Xiaolin, and Xin Guiqiu won the women’s individual gymnastics medal respectively. The top three in the all-around final.

A total of twelve athletes from China, North Korea, Japan, Iran and other teams participated in tonight’s women’s gymnastics individual all-around final. The athletes who won the fourth, fifth and sixth place in this competition were North Korea’s Zhao Yunxi, Kim Chunshan and Huang Chaoye respectively.

The three Chinese women helped and encouraged each other in tonight’s competition. Twenty-seven-year-old Jiang Shaoyi moved skillfully, gracefully, and accurately in the four events. Her floor routine was well received by the audience. She scored 9.55 points for her floor routine gymnastics performance. The scores for the other three events were: 9.55 points for vault, 9.60 points for balance beam, and 9.40 points for uneven bars.

At the end of the competition, when the electric scoreboard showed three Chinese athletes won the top three women’s individual all-around finals, the audience applauded. Athletes and coaches from many countries came up to the Chinese athletes and hugged or shook hands with them. Many Iranian friends in the audience waved to the Chinese athletes on the competition field.

Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily), September 05, 1974

据新华社德黑兰一九七四年九月四日电 今天晚上,在第七届亚运会的体操馆里同时升起了三面五星红旗,中国体操运动员蒋绍毅、宁小琳、辛桂秋分别获得女子体操个人全能决赛的前三名。




Note: Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily) is the official newspaper of the People’s Republic of China’s Central Military Commission.

A similar sentiment was highlighted in the recap article when the gymnastics competition concluded:

New Developments in Asian Gymnastics

According to Xinhua News Agency, Tehran, September 7, 1974. On the evening of September 6, when the last competitor in the horizontal bar final successfully completed his movements, the gymnastics competition of the Seventh Asian Games came to a triumphant end amidst the enthusiastic cheers of more than 10,000 spectators. Since the gymnastics competition of the 7th Asian Games started on September 2, the gymnasts from various countries have been praised by the audience for their high and exquisite skills, as well as their tenacious and tough wills and the style of mutual encouragement, solidarity and friendship they have shown during the competition. The high technical level and good style of competition are the remarkable features of this gymnastic competition.

Gymnastics in Asia has developed rapidly in recent years. In order to adapt to this situation, this Asian Games has added gymnastics for the first time.

The Chinese gymnastics team, which participated in a large-scale international competition for the first time since the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, came to Tehran with the ardent hopes of the party and the people on its shoulders. They carried forward the spirit of heroism, tenacity, and collectivism, brought the old to the new, promoted each other, fought in unity, and achieved outstanding results in the competition. Among the 14 events in the gymnastics competition, they won first place in eight events, including the men’s and women’s team competitions and the women’s individual all-around. Chinese gymnasts’ noble style, good technique, brand-new revolutionary spirit, and healthy shape displayed in the competition have been praised by the audience. They have won honor for the socialist motherland and contributed to the promotion of friendship and unity in the Asian sports community.

North Korean male and female gymnasts from the “Land of Thousand Miles” also achieved good results in the competition. Their brave and tenacious revolutionary spirit and hard-working and strict-demanding style left a deep impression on people. The North Korean women’s team, with an average age of only 16 years old, was the second team behind the Chinese team by only a little. On uneven bars, floor exercise, and other events, they have high difficulty in movements, new routines, and high levels. Seventeen-year-old Zhao Yunxi tied for first place with China’s Jiang Shaoyi on uneven bars. The North Korean men’s team, which has a prestigious reputation in the world, won third place this time.

The Japanese team sent Kazuo Horide, Takeo Igarashi, Kazuo Hanyu, and other outstanding athletes who participated in many international competitions to participate in this Asian Games. During the game, Takeo Igarashi and another male athlete were injured accidentally, which affected their results. However, the Japanese team still achieved good results, such as second place in the men’s team competition, third place in the women’s team competition, and first place in the men’s individual all-around.

Although the competition was intense, the whole game was always filled with a warm atmosphere of unity and friendship. Athletes from China, North Korea, Japan, Iran, Kuwait, and other countries have conducted joint training and friendly exchanges in the days before the competition, further enhancing their friendship. During the competition, they encouraged each other, helped each other, cared for each other, and there were many touching scenes. When Chinese athlete Cai Huanzong participated in the men’s individual all-around final, his body was a little uncomfortable. The North Korean and Kuwaiti athletes present took the initiative to massage him, so that he could relax his muscles and perform better in the competition. After the Japanese athlete Takeo Igarashi suffered a fall, the Chinese male athlete went to visit him. When a contestant performed successfully, contestants from many countries came forward to express their congratulations; when someone failed accidentally, friends gathered around to comfort and encourage him.

Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily), September  08, 1974


据新华社德黑兰一九七四年九月七日电 九月六日晚,当参加单杠决赛的最后一名选手成功地完成自己的动作后,第七届亚运会的体操比赛在一万多名观众的热烈欢呼声中胜利结束了。第七届亚运会的体操比赛自九月二日开始以来,各国体操运动员在比赛中表演的高超、精湛的技巧,以及他们表现出来的顽强坚韧的意志和互相鼓励、团结友好的作风,受到观众的称赞。技术水平高,比赛风格好,是这次体操比赛的显著特点。








The Chinese press also gave us some insight into the skills competed by a few gymnasts:

Jiang Shaoyi, a well-known Chinese athlete, gave an exciting performance on the uneven bars. Her actions include high-level moves such as doing a forward somersault from the low bar and then grabbing the high bar, and finally a full-twisting hecht dismount off the high bar and over the low bar. When she finished a set of movements and stood firmly on the mat, the audience burst into thunderous applause.

In the horizontal bar final, Cai Huanzong successfully made a difficult movement of L-grip connected with a single-arm turn of 360 degrees and later a double flyaway to finish during the final on high bar. This set of movements was very beautiful and novel, and won enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Jiefangjun Bao (PLA Daily), September  07, 1974



Confrontation between North and South Korea

According to the South Korean press, there was a lot of tension between the North Korean and South Korean delegations.

Unforgivable rampage by coach and athletes from North Korea

…On the 3rd day of the Asian Games gymnastics event, North Korean coach and athletes vented their frustrations by uttering profanities and even attempted to assault Kim Sangmin, the judge from South Korea, resulting in the audience’s displeasure.

The reason behind their irrational behavior outside the competition venue was the belief that Judge Kim did not award them fair scores.

However, ironically, in the men’s gymnastics event on the 2nd day, it was judges from North Korea who gave unfair scores.

Among the four judges, two were from North Korea, and while they lowered the scores of South Korean athletes, they gave high scores to North Korean athletes, causing South Korean athletes to fall behind by as much as 1.75 points in the gymnastics event.

Chosun Ilbo, September 5, 1974

북괴(北傀)감독—선수(選手) 행패극심

…북괴(北傀)감독과 선수들은3일 아시아경기 체조종목에서 불순한 욕지거리를퍼붓고평행봉국제심판인 한국(韓國)의 김상민(金尚民)씨를 구타하려고 시도하여 관중들의 빈축을샀다.

경기장밖에서의 그들의 이같은 몰상식한 행동의 이유인즉 김(金)심판이 그들에게 공정한 점수를주지않았다는것.

그러나 정작 2일 남자 도수경기에서 불공정한 평점을매긴것은 북괴(北傀)심판들이었다.

심판4명중 2명은 북괴(北傀)심판들인데 그들은 한국(韓國)선수들의 점수는 깎아내리면서도북괴(北傀)선수들에게는 좋은 점수를주어 이때문에 한국(韓國)선수들이도수종목에서만도 1·75포인트나 뒤지는 결과를 초래했다.

Note: I have no way to research North Korea’s perspective on the events.

Arthur Gander’s Thoughts

Gander, the FIG’s president at the time, gave his thoughts on the Chinese gymnasts, confessing that he did not like where gymnastics was heading. (Reminder: In 1973, the Women’s Technical Committee had tried to ban Olga Korbut’s skills.) According to him, there were too many acrobatics, and the Chinese were preserving the artistic side of the sport. As mentioned in the introduction, he also engaged in essentialism, saying that Chinese gymnasts have the right body types for the sport.

Meanwhile the Japanese were thinking it was a pity that they had left their eight top gymnasts at home to prepare for the world championship next month at Varna, Bulgaria. Led by 27-year-old Chiang Shao-yi, the Chinese women won nine gymnastics medals, including five gold, and they had onlookers wondering what they will do for an encore after they gain international experience. The Chinese men were not nearly as strong but they took nine medals as well, not bad for a bunch of beginners.

“We have worked very hard for a year,” Chiang said. She has been a gymnast since she was an 11-year-old primary school student in Yunnan province. Now she is an instructor in her sport at the Physical Culture and Sports Institute in Peking. Gymnastics have always been popular in China, she explained, especially among students, but it has been only during the last 20 years that artistic gymnastics have been widely practiced.

“The main thing is to improve or raise the standard through friendly exchanges,” she said. “For instance, we visited the United States last year and we learned a lot from the American players.” Quite a lot, it appears. On Tuesday the Chinese men and women won the team titles. The next day Chiang and teammates Ning Hsiao-lin and Hsin Kuei-chiu finished 1-2-3 in the all-round, and two nights later Chiang was brilliant as she won three of four possible gold medals and had an almost perfect 19.35 (out of 20) for her two performances on the floor. The same evening Tsai Huan-tsung won four medals for the men to boost the Chinese gymnasts’ total to 18.

Arthur Gander is the president of FIG, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique. He is a German Swiss who wears baggy pants and has a tendency to pound the table when he speaks. He was once a member of the Swiss national gymnastic team and had been a gym teacher until his retirement. And he was aghast at the expulsion of Taiwan from the Asian Games, but the Chinese gymnasts won him over with their performances.

“There is no event in which they are lagging,” Gander said. “They are equally good in all. They have wonderful moves and technique, and a virtuosity and precision that is a rarity even among Japanese men. The trend in gymnastics is toward acrobatics, as demonstrated by Olga Korbut. I’m not a fan of it, but it seems everyone is doing triple saults now, and triple twists, and quadruple twists. The art of gymnastics is suffering. The Chinese show more artistic performances. They are total perfection. To watch them makes your heart laugh.”

He found a table nearby and began to pound on it. “I did not expect them to be this good, but they convinced me. A Chinese is a very well-formed human being, better formed than a Japanese, for instance.” He pounded some more. “Or a Swiss. That is one advantage. The Chinese men are most beautiful, and the women are better formed than most women from other countries as well.”

Because they do not belong to FIG, the Chinese were performing at a disadvantage. As outsiders, they were not able to place a judge on the panel. “There was another thing regarding the rules,” said Gander. “Every other team practiced in the big hall where the competitions took, place although it was against the rules. Nobody said anything. The Chinese were the only ones following the rules and practicing in the practice hall. They like to keep in the background.”

“A Great Plunge forward for China,” Sports Illustrated, Sept. 16, 1974


Speaker 1: [Music] Gymnastics, a newcomer sport to the Asian Games, was one of the most exciting and controversial competitions of the 7th Asian Games. In this series of competitions, there were six teams from Iran, China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Kuwait and also three teams from Hong Kong and one from the Philipines participated. In these games, Chinese gymnasts won first place in both men’s and women’s team events.
The Chinese gymnastics team finally won 12 gold medals in this sport. The individual competitions of this sport were held on the fourth night. From the start of this competition, the Japanese showed that they would use all their efforts to win the gold medal of this sport in order to partially compensate for the failure of the team competition. This created a close competition between Chinese and Japanese gymnasts. Japan’s Puride Kazio eventually won the men’s individual gold medal, while China’s Tabi Chuan and South Korea’s Wei Bang-ti won the silver and bronze medals. Iran’s national gymnastics team did not win any position in this competition.
The Iranian national water polo team broke all the predictions that were made prior the competition. This team stood on the championship platform while defeating famous teams such as China and Japan and deservedly won the championship. In the end, the Chinese and Japanese teams stood on the second and third platforms respectively.
Boxing competitions of the 7th Tehran Asian Games were held with the participation of 90 boxers from 14 countries. Iran’s national boxing team won three gold medals, two silver medals and five bronze medals in this tournament and became the runner-up after South Korea.
The freestyle wrestling competition of the Tehran Asian Games began with the participation of 81 wrestlers from 11 countries. After three days of fighting, the Iranian wrestling team managed to win five gold, four silver and one bronze medals. In the three mats of the tournament, it was usually Iranian wrestlers whose arms were raised.
One of the incidents during these matches was the Japan’s protest against the referees’ decision in the match between Reza Sokhtesarai and Makotosatio. The Japanese wrestler refused to continue wrestling and left the mat as a sign of protest against the referee’s decision. Among the gold winners, Mansour Barzegar and Mohsen Farahbashi were the worthy and powerful champions of this competition. Farehbashi’s powerful opponent in this period was Sasaki, the student champion of the world. In this highly competetive match, Farehbashi overcame the Japanese wrestler with a dazzling brilliance.
The seventh edition of the Asian Games finally ended. Japan won the most medals and the highest position by winning 75 gold medals, 49 silver medals and 50 bronze medals. With the advantages of being the host, Iran stood in second place with 36 gold medals, 28 silver medals and 17 bronze medals, and China was the third best team of the 1974 Asian Games in Tehran with a small margin after Iran. [Music]

[Music] ژیمناستیک رشته تازه وارد بازی‌های آسیایی یکی از پرشورترین و جنجالی‌ترین مسابقات هفتمین بازی‌های آسیایی بود. دراین مسابقات شش تیم کامل از کشورهای ایران، چین، ژاپن، کره‌‌جنوبی، کره‌شمالی و کویت همچنین سه تیم از هنگ‌گنک و یک تیم از فلیپین شرکت داشتند. در این بازی‌ها ژیمناست‌های چین در هر دو قسمت تیمی مردان و زنان مقام نخست را کسب کردند. تیم ژیمناستیک چین در نهایت 12 مدال طلا دراین رشته بدست آورد. مسابقات انفرادی این رشته در شب چهارم برگزار شد ژاپنی‌ها از آغاز این مسابقات نشان دادند که تمام تلاش خود را برای کسب مدال طلا این رشته بکار بستند تا ناکامی مسابقات تیمی را تا حدی جبران کنند. این امر رقابت تنگاتنگی میان ژیمناست‌های چین و ژاپن پدید آورد. پورید کازیو ژیمناست ژاپنی سرانجام مدال طلایی انفرادی مردان را به گردن آویخت و تابی چوان از چین و وی بانگ تی از کره‌جنوبی مدال‌های نقره و برنز را بدست آوردند. تیم ملی ژیمناستک ایران دراین مسابقات مقامی بدست نیاورد.
تیم ملی water polo ایران تمامی پیش‌بینی‌های قبل از مسابقات را بهم ریخت. این تیم درحالی بر سکوی قهرمانی ایستاد که تیم‌های صاحب نامی همچون چین و ژاپن را ناکام گذاشته و با شایستگی قهرمان شد. تیم‌های چین و ژاپن در پایان بر سکوهای دوم و سوم ایستادند.
مسابقات بوکس هفتمین دوره بازی‌های آسیایی تهران با حضور 90 بوکسور از 14 کشور برگزار شد. تیم ملی بوکس ایران دراین مسابقات با کسب سه مدال طلا، دو مدال نقره و پنج مدال برنز بعد از کره‌جنوبی به مقام نائب قهرمانی دست یافت.
مسابقات کشتی آزاد بازی‌های آسیایی تهران با حضور 81 کشتی‌گیر از 11 کشور آغاز شد. تیم کشتی ایران پس از سه روز پیکار توانست پنج مدال طلا، چهار نقره و یک مدال برنز بدست آورد. در سه تشک برگزاری مسابقات قالباً دست کشتی‌گیران ایرانی بود که بالا می‌رفت.
یکی از حوادث این مسابقات اعتراض ژاپنی‌ها نسبت به رأی داوران در کشتی رضا سوخته‌سرایی با ماکوتوساتیو بود. کشتی‌گیر ژاپنی به نشانه‌ی اعتراض به رأی داور از ادامه کشتی خودداری و تشک را ترک کرد. در جمع تصاحب کنندگان طلا منصور برزگر و محسن فره‌بشی قهرمانان شایسته و قدرتمند این مسابقات بودند. حریف قدرتمند فره‌بشی دراین دوره ساساکی قهرمان دانشجویان جهان بود. دراین دیدار حساس فره‌بشی با درخشش خیره‌کننده‌ای بر کشتی‌گیر ژاپنی غلبه کرد.
هفتمین دوره بازی‌های آسیایی سرانجام به پایان رسید. ژاپن با کسب 75 مدال طلا، 49 مدال نقره و 50 مدال برنز بیشترین مدال و بالاترین مقام را بدست آورد. ایران با استفاده از مزیت میزبانی با تصاحب 36 مدال طلا، 28 مدال نقره و 17 برنز درجای دوم ایستاد و چین با اختلاف اندک بعد از ایران سومین تیم برتر بازی‌های آسیایی 1974 در تهران بود. [Music]

China’s Inclusion in the 1974 Asian Games

From 1954 to 1970, Taiwan represented China at the Asian Games, and during this period, the “Two Chinas” issue was a highly political issue for sporting events, including the Asian Games. The turning point came in 1974 when Iran hosted the Games. Here’s an excerpt from an academic paper on the subject:

From the early 1970s China and Iran developed a close relationship. In September 1972 the Iranian royal family and government were invited to visit Beijing and they received there a warm welcome from Chairman Mao Zedong. Subsequently at the Asian Games Federation (AGF) board meeting in September 1973 in Bangkok, Iran proposed accepting the PRC as a member, and revoking Taiwan’s membership. The proposal was supported by Japan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but opposed by Thailand and Malaysia. After some intense debate, the AGF officially admitted the PRC as a member of the AGF on 16 November 1973 and Taiwan was excluded.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was particularly cautious about this change. At its 74th session in September 1971, the IOC stated that politics should not mix with sport. It claimed that if the AGF did not invite all the countries that were IOC members to attend the Asian Games, then the IOC would not acknowledge the 7th Asian Games which would be held in Tehran in 1974. Other international federations warned that their member countries would be forbidden to compete with non-member countries at the Tehran Asian Games.

With the support of Iran and the AGF, Beijing announced on 17 November 1973 that it would send a team to represent China at the 7th Asian Games in Tehran. It was the first major international event to be attended by China since 1966 when the Cultural Revolution had begun and during which China had been isolated. The government saw the Games as a golden opportunity to restore the PRC’s status in the Asian world. The Sports Ministry issued the ‘Work Plan for Competitive Sport’ on 3 December 1973. The goal it set was for the Chinese national team to achieve positions in the first three places in most of the events at the Asian Games. As the Games approached in 1974 it became the major task of the Sports Ministry and two-month selective trials were held to train and select the best athletes for the Games.

Deng Xiaoping, who was recently free from his political opponents, the ‘Gang of Four’, became a vice-prime minister and began to push the country towards economic recovery and developing international relations. He saw the Games as an excellent opportunity to restore and develop China’s relationship with other Asian countries. Zhao Zhenghong, vice-minister of the Sports Ministry, asked him for advice, ‘What shall we do if athletes from China and Iran encounter each other at some events?’.4 With his usual pragmatic manner, Deng replied: ‘If you have two gold medals in your pocket, you should use one to pay what you owe to Iran’.5 China did.When it met Iran in the final of the water polo China lost the game by one point: 8:9.6

In September 1974, the PRC attended the Asian Games in Tehran – the PRC’s first since 1951. Altogether, 269 of its athletes competed in 14 events, it won 33 gold medals and came third in the medal table. China’s return to the Asian Games and its impressive performance were regarded as a major breakthrough in Asian sport and Asian politics especially given that China was still in the middle of the Cultural Revolution.

F. Hong and L. Zhouxiang, “China, the Asian Games and Asian Politics, 1974-2006,” The International Journal of the History of Sport, 29.1 (2012).

More on 1974

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.