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World Orienteering Championships 2019: How are Asian orienteers doing?

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The World Orienteering Championships (the first middle/long only edition under the new system) is over. Forest orienteering is usually not the tenor of Asian orienteers. So how are they doing in the Norwegian terrain?

World Orienteering Championships 2019 took place in the forests near Moss and Sarpsborg, in the Norwegian borderlands next to Sweden.
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1. Increased opportunities for Asian orienteers in new system

Since this year, WOC editions will be forest or sprint only, alternating each year. For the forest edition, the extra time means the middle distance qualification is back, and with it all three slots for each country regardless of past results.

(The long distance is still straight final only, and quota distribution following the “division” system which depends on past results. Under this system, orienteers can still get onto the start list by winning a regional championship, such as AsOC.)

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In the new system, 15 slots for each gender in the middle distance final goes to countries that don’t have any runners qualified yet by rank. This system is a huge boost for Asian orienteers—Chinese and Japanese orienteers got into the final thanks to this rule.

2. Japan and China the best East Asian countries

As we have seen from the previous point, Japan and China are the best East Asian teams in WOC this year. (Israel is the only Asian country to perform better than both, but only in men’s, since it didn’t field a women’s team.)

However, all of the aforementioned countries finished in the latter half of the results list. Not only do Asians have a relative physical disadvantage, but they also don’t have the right kind of forest terrain to train on (European bias perhaps?).

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Way to go, Asians!

3. Where are the other countries?

If you think that high-level orienteering events are a “Club of Europe”, you’re not alone. European (arguably Scandinavian) domination aside, the other continents do have way to go even in terms of participation. Hong Kong and Japan are particularly active, China, South Korea, North Korea (just Kyong-sa Ri this year) and Taiwan (as Chinese Taipei, didn’t send team to WOC this year but did have some spectators having fun) are also quite active, but the rest are still starting.

We might expect more coming soon to WOC, especially next year is going to be a Sprint WOC: Malaysia and Singapore are sending their teams to the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships. Wait till they send teams to WOC as well!

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The full final results for each race are now on WOC Live.

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