World Orienteering Day: where to try orienteering in Asia?

It’s time for World Orienteering Day again! The week-long initiative by IOF will start tomorrow (15 May) and last until 21 May.

WOD was originally intended for school orienteering, but has now become a convenient occasion for orienteers around the world to promote their sport. While Europe still has the majority of WOD events registered on, Asia has quite some remarkable activities in remarkable places, with Taiwan registering 9 events (as of 14 May), 7 each in Indonesia and Japan, and a staggering 12 in tiny Hong Kong!

Here are some of the activities you should learn about:

Nepal: forest (and school orienteering) on high

For the outdoor-loving, Nepal is perhaps synonymous with the highest mountains in the world. To go to Nepal often means to conquer the Himalayas, if not to see its exotic towns and villages (or other similar activity, however stereotyped).

But what about orienteering? Probably not many orienteers know that Nepal has become an IOF member this year. Besides, they even got this map of a small forest, behind a school!

Hong Kong: the metropolis continues to shine

Hong Kong is one of the earliest places for orienteering in Asia. Indeed, it has one of the highest numbers of WOD activities in East Asia this year (12 activities registered as of 14 May).

Besides school orienteering, Hong Kong will be hosting downtown events, park orienteering, and an online trail orienteering course for WOD.

Macau: old town meets new sport

What do you know about Macau besides its Portuguese past, its UNESCO-recognised old town, and its casinos? Well, as an orienteer, I’d say it has orienteering! Although Macau is a relative newcomer in the sport, it’s learning quick from its neighbour across the sea.

Macau’s WOD activity will be in Guia Municipal Park, which hosts historical structures including a church, a fortress, and air raid shelters.

Taiwan: beautiful island with active orienteering

The beautiful island (which is what Taiwan’s other name, Formosa, literally means) has been active in the orienteering scene for quite a while, being a short hop by plane from Hong Kong. In fact, Taiwan will host its sprint championship this weekend at Huafan University, a Buddhist university near Taipei.

Japan: WOD in a super-metropolis

Japan is the only Asian country to have hosted the World Orienteering Championships (in 2005), and this year’s WOD activity will be no less impressive. And this means orienteering in Tokyo, one of the most bustling metropolises of the world.

The WOD activity will be at Shinagawa Season Terrace, an urban park with mall and conference facilities right next to Shinagawa Station. Also, the Japanese will be showcasing NaviTabi, their GPS tracking service for orienteering.

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Chinese students in Orienteering World Schools Championship

Students from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Secondary School participated in the Orienteering World Schools Championship in Otepää, Estonia last week.

The Chinese students are the only East Asian team in the Championship (the school also participated in the last edition in 2017). Israel is the only other fully Asian country in the Championship this year, along with Eurasian countries Turkey and Russia.

The students got overall 18th in class M1 School and 14th in class M2 School. In class M1 Selected, Chinese students came 14th overall.

The Orienteering World Schools Championship is organised by the International School Sport Federation (ISF). The ISF is in charge of international sport competitions for students 13 to 18 years of age. The orienteering event usually takes place every second year. 600 young athletes from 23 countries took part in the 18th edition this year.

The Championship consists of a middle distance race, a long distance race, and a friendship team event. The overall results are the total time of the team in the middle and long distance races. The friendship team event consists of mixed teams, each with members from different countries.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Secondary School is based in Zhongshan where Dr Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China, was born, north of Zhuhai and Macau. The boarding school was founded in 1934 by Sun Fo, Sun Yat-sen’s eldest son, and is today a top-grade school of Guangdong Province. Within the orienteering community, the school is famous for its active orienteering activities. Its large campus of half a square kilometre has hosted public orienteering competitions.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Secondary School
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What you should know about Japan today: era change

Emperor Akihito of Japan abdicated on 30 April 2019, succeeded by his elder son Naruhito.

A new emperor will always use a new era name (年号 nengō). Until 30 April 2019 the era name was 平成 Heisei. As Japan has now passed into 1 May at 00:00 (30 April 18:00 for Central Europe), the era name is now 令和 Reiwa.

Yoshihide Suga (Chief Cabinet Secretary) announced the new era name on 1 April. The cabinet selected the name from a shortlist submitted by an expert panel. (Government of Japan, CC-BY 4.0)

In Japan, people always use era names to count years. The Heisei era had been in use since Emperor Akihito’s reign started in 1989 (Heisei 1). The year 2018 was Heisei 30. Era names are important not only for practical purposes; they also have strong social, cultural and emotional significance for people in Japan.

This year (2019) is therefore known in Japan as “Reiwa 1” from 1 May onwards. (Until 30 April, the year was “Heisei 31”.)

More about Japan! Did you know Japan is hosting the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships this summer? You can also join the spectator races!

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3 Questions on Orienteering in Malaysia

Malaysia is a known travel destination for city, culture, nature and beach lovers alike. It is however not known to be an orienteering destination yet. In this article, we will answer 3 questions as it relates to orienteering in Malaysia.

1. Can I drive my car to the races?

Of course you can rent a car in Malaysia (driving your own car to Malaysia is probably not practical unless you live in Singapore or Thailand)—but that won’t be necessary for orienteering events.

Almost all orienteering events are located in or near cities (Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley, Kuantan, etc.) You can take buses to orienteering events. Taxi is also not very expensive (e.g. in Kuantan it costs 28 ringgits for a distance of 20km, or around €6).

For the Tropical Orienteering Week there will be no dedicated parking zones. You can park in nearby public car parks where available. We encourage everyone to take the bus to the races (as the Hong Kong orienteers already do).

2. Malaysia is a tropical country. Would the heat be unbearable for orienteering?

Valid question, but don’t worry.

Malaysia does have a tropical climate, with an average temperature of 27°C. This is warm, if not very hot, but still nice for running/orienteering.

In tropical/subtropical orienteering communities (Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc.) the course length is often shorter than that of Europe/Oceania, e.g. a sprint for 3 km, a middle distance for 3–4 km, and a long distance for 7–9 km (seldom competed in Asia, not even in the Asian Orienteering Championships or the coming World Cup Finals in China).

But one thing is for sure: drink enough water!

3. Is the wildlife dangerous? (snakes, tigers etc.)

Good question.

The animals themselves, of course, are dangerous. However, they are quite a distance away from the cities and people.

Snakes are often found in jungles and mangrove forests. However, they also tend to be quite afraid of people and are often nocturnal, so a crowd of orienteers (and other visitors) would be enough to scare them away. (Editor’s note: When I started orienteering in Hong Kong I also had the same fear, until I realise the above point. Hundreds of orienteering and trail running races have been held in Hong Kong without a single snake bite; ankle sprains are a far more common injury.)

The only place you can see a snake in cities is usually the reptile house (or maybe the snake restaurant, if you dare).

Do search for basic knowledge about what to do when seeing a snake. Mainly: don’t run away, back off slowly, if it’s not triggered, you’ll be fine.

Tigers—yes they exist, but usually in jungles far from cities, not where we usually have orienteering.

Join the Tropical Orienteering Week today—super early bird ends 1 May!

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What is the Asian Cup?

In 2018, a new name became the talk of the Asian orienteering community—the Asian Cup. Its conception follows a line of newly founded Asian-wide events, which also include the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships (AsJYOC) and the Asian Trail Orienteering Championships.

While Europe is already widely known as the “hinterland” of the orienteering sport with an abundance of “European-wide” events (EOC, EYOC, ETOC…), the trend is just catching up in Asia with only a handful of countries (mainly in East Asia) with sufficient talent to field teams. Many more countries (mainly in Southeast Asia) still in a foundation stage with a very small core of orienteers. So why the Asian Cup, and how is it different from the other Asian-wide events (AsOC etc.)?

The Asian Cup

The Asian Cup is led and administered by the Orienteering Association of Hong Kong, which is also one of the first places in Asia to have formal orienteering (see the article Did you know…?)

OAHK has set up a website to host information relating to the four Asian-wide events (AsOC, Asian Cup, AsJYOC, ATOC), which looks largely identical in design to the OAHK website.

Unlike the World Cup in orienteering, there is no such thing as an independent Asian Cup stage event. Most Asian Cup events are World Ranking Events, but the Asian Cup also includes the Asian Orienteering Championships. Relay events (sprint/forest) may also be included.

Participation in the Asian Cup is restricted to elite competitors registered by their federations, and no more than 30 males and 30 females per federation (Note: this equals the maximum number of people allowed to join the Elite class in Hong Kong ranking events each year, separately for sprint and middle/long distance events). IOF top level event rules also apply (must hold full passport of that country, must have IOF athlete license). Cup results are computed using a 40-rank scoring system ranging from the 1st (100 points) to the 40th rank (9 points) for each stage. Other finishers will be given 5 points for each stage. Scores and overall titles are awarded to both individuals and federations.

Which events are included in the Asian Cup?

The calendar of the 2019 Asian Cup that year, as announced by OAHK, is as follows:

  • Japan, 14 April 2019 (All Japan Orienteering Championship in Nikko)
  • Malaysia, 5 October 2019 (Malaysia Polytechnic Orienteering Championship in Kuantan, also see Tropical Orienteering Week)
  • Taipei, 12–13 October 2019 (Kinmen Orienteering Championships)
  • China, date to be confirmed (editor’s note: very likely to be the final stage of the Historical Road Championships this year on 14–15 October 2019)

Who won the Asian Cup last year?

See this file. We haven’t found the federation scores but you can add the athletes’ scores up and get the result.

Got itchy feet?

Remember that the Asian Cup is limited to Asian elite athletes only, so unless you take up the nationality of one of the participating federations, you can’t really be part of it. However, most events are also World Ranking Events at the same time so it’s a good idea to check the calendar and book your trip (why not consider the Tropical Orienteering Week in Malaysia?)

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Tropical Orienteering Week now open for entries!

You’d probably have read our promotion for the Tropical Orienteering Week, to be held in Kuantan, Malaysia in October 2019. If you haven’t, here’s your chance to learn more about our first large-scale orienteering event in Asia!

Why Tropical O-Week?

We are continually expanding our promotion and offer for unique orienteering experiences in Asia, a continent where the existence of the sport is not known by even many in the orienteering community worldwide, yet offers unforgettable memories for the orienteers who made it there.

Southeast Asia is a popular region for tourists worldwide to come for holidays. It’s also one of the fastest growing orienteering regions in the world—the sport has set its foot in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, the first of which has even held its first Sprint World Ranking Event (WRE) last year (2018).

Malaysia will be returning with its second and third WREs (both also sprints) in 2019. The second WRE in October will be held in Kuantan, a bustling town on the east coast of Malaysia. To support this occasion, we’ll be organising a Tropical O-Week to enhance and promote the tropical orienteering experience, which you’ll sure want to discover.

The third WRE in December will be held near Kuala Lumpur and we’re exploring the opportunity to cooperate with local organisers and expand to a sprint-focused orienteering week as well.

Teluk Cempedak, near Kuantan, will be part of an orienteering venue we will use for the Orienteering Week (photo: Sihyoong, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Who’s organising?

The Kuantan WRE and National Ranking Event are organised by the POLISAS (Politeknik Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah), a university college in Kuantan.

Other events in the week will be held by ORIEN.ASIA, led by Raphael Mak, an event organiser with four years of experience in Hong Kong and now living in Sweden.

What events will there be?

There will be 8 events. Check out the schedule and details on the O-Week page!

Is it expensive to get there?

No. Flying to Kuantan costs around €600 return for the O-Week period (search on Skyscanner as of 7 April 2019, departure from Copenhagen Kastrup). Flying to Kuala Lumpur, then taking a 4-hour bus to Kuantan, is likely to be less expensive.

If you’re worried about climate change effects of aviation, you can always take a train to China, then onwards with trains and buses through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia ( has excellent advice on this).

Hotels are very cheap in Kuantan: even the luxury Hyatt Regency Resort at Teluk Cempedak will cost you no more than €100 per night. If you’re not that upscale, you can book a room for €30 to €40 a night at a nice three-star hotel downtown, or even cheaper if you’re going for budget options like hostels.

I’m ready! Where can I sign up?

Have you read the details? Decided? Now sign up at our shop!

Remember that we have limited-time discounts, the first of which will expire already in less than a month!

Tropical Orienteering Week, Kuantan, Malaysia, 4-13 October 2019, 8 races and 4 training maps with 1 World Ranking Event!
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AsJYOC 2019 Japan Spectator Races announced

The third edition of the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships will be held this summer in Hokuto, Japan. The organisers have promised spectator races—here they come—they have announced three days of spectator races (30 August–1 September) with Sprint (Day/Night), Middle Distance WRE, and Long Distance.

That’s all for the meantime—more details will come in May. But enough reason to start planning for a Japan trip maybe?

Arrival at Tokyo Haneda. Hokuto is in the mountains west of Tokyo (northwest of Mount Fuji).
Arrival at Tokyo Haneda Airport.
Hokuto is in the mountains west of Tokyo (northwest of Mount Fuji).

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Still not signed up for the 1st Singapore sprint ranking series? Don’t miss it!

Remember we talked about Singapore’s first ranking event series (19-21 April)?

In case you missed the early bird discount in March, no worriesOrienteering Federation Singapore now extends the early bird discountexclusively for readers of ORIEN.ASIA!

To use the discount, remember to Register here and enter the discount code SingaporeO.

You can find more details of the ranking series on the event page on Facebook.

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Singapore starts orienteering ranking league this year!

Ever been to Singapore for orienteering? Not quite a popular competition destination for orienteers (yet), but it’s rising quick among the Asian orienteers!

A ranking league is not only important for the fair comparison of athletes. It can also be a boost to publicity and attract more people to the sport. As a higher level event, ranking events are often opportunities for orienteers across regions to mix and chill, like Hong Kong recently did by designating one of the ranking events as a “Guangdong-HK-Macau Championships”.

This year, Singapore will be joining the ranks of major orienteering nations by starting a ranking league. The first event will be held in April and spread out to 3 days, each day with a different location and format:

If you’re going to be in Singapore that weekend, this is sure to be something you don’t want to miss.

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Did you know…?

We love orienteering! (Photo from MetOC Knockout Sprint 2017)
  1. Hong Kong is probably the earliest place in Asia to have orienteering as a sport. Being one of the last remaining British colonies in the 20th century, the British Armed Forces brought the sport from Europe to Hong Kong in the 1950s/1960s, then taught the police and the scouts how to play it, then taught other people etc.
  2. From Hong Kong the sport went on to other places in Asia: starting from Mainland China in the 1980s, orienteering is now played in well over a dozen countries and regions (see Destinations)
  3. There are 7 countries/regions in Asia (excluding the Middle East) which have hosted IOF high-level events (WRE, AsOC, WOC) at least once: China, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia
  4. China mostly uses its own two systems, Chinahealth and Learnjoy, the latter of which is on IOF’s provisional approval list for WRE events. Hong Kong once used the Norwegian punch system EMIT, but switched to SPORTident some time around 2014 (some clubs use the Chinese systems however). Japan still uses EMIT.
  5. If you’ve been to Britain for orienteering, chances are that you’d been required to bring a whistle with you in the woods. Same applies to Hong Kong, where the rules of the sport are derived from British ones (due to point 1 above).
  6. There is currently (as of 2019) one IOF council member from Asia (also the only non-European member), Dominic Yue who is also the chairman of the Orienteering Association of Hong Kong.
Chinahealth is made in Shenzhen, China
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