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Hanoi to host 2019 Asian Games

(Reuters) - Hanoi has been chosen as the host city for the 2019 Asian Games, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said on Thursday.

The Vietnamese capital, which hosted the 2003 Southeast Asian Games and the 2009 Asian Indoor Games, beat Indonesia's Surabaya for the right to stage the 18th edition of the event.

OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah announced the result at the governing body's general assembly in Macau without revealing details of the voting.

"Everyone remembers the Asian Indoor Games in Hanoi in 2009 and all the participants were very satisfied and wanted to go back to Vietnam," Sheikh Ahmad said in a statement.

"Vietnam will also host the 5th Asian Beach Games at Nha Trang in 2016, and through this experience I am confident they will organize a very successful Asian Games in 2019.

"We have trust in their leaders, the government of Vietnam, the city of Hanoi and the National Olympic Committee. Vietnam has all the tools - a country with big potential and a booming economy."

Vietnam's bid was not without controversy, with some questioning the expense of hosting Asia's largest multi-sport event in what is still a relatively poor country.

Vietnam Olympic Committee chief Hoang Vinh Giang said they hoped to put on the event for between $150 and $300 million.

Forty-four National Olympic Committees (NOCs) voted to choose the host city with Vietnam winning the bid to take the Asian Games to the country for the first time. India, which is preparing for NOC elections later this month, missed the vote.

DUBAI FIASCO

In an earlier statement posted on its website(www.ocasia.org), the OCA said that Dubai had pulled out of the bidding at the last minute but an update made no reference to the United Arab Emirates's most populous city.

The OCA had said that Dubai, which regularly hosts top-level golf, cricket, tennis and horse racing events, preferred to concentrate on a future Games.

"The National Olympic Committee of UAE did not bid for staging the Asian games but was considering previously the idea of organizing the games so the news (of the bidding then the withdrawal) is untrue," Youssef Al Serkal, the first deputy for the president of the UAE Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The 18th Games were originally scheduled to take place in 2018 but the OCA decided in 2009 to permanently shift the quadrennial event to the year before the Summer Olympics.

Guangzhou in Southern China hosted the 2010 edition, when nearly 10,000 athletes took part, and spent 122.6 billion yuan ($19.63 billion) on infrastructure, venues and operating costs.

The 17th version of the Games will take place in Incheon, South Korea in 2014.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Clare Fallon and Ed Osmond)

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