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?
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.
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)
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
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.
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).
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.
Now with 2019 in full speed—despite me writing 2018 by mistake a couple of times—it’s time to look forward to newer events, better results, and more fun! In the coming years we can see that the focus of orienteering shifts eastward from Europe towards Asia, with many major competitions receiving wider attention from the orienteering world.
Here are three major orienteering events in Asia that will take place in 2019, that you definitively cannot miss:
1. Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships, Hokuto (Japan)
The Asian federations of IOF decided to launch the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships (AsJYOC) at the 2014 conference in Kazakhstan, with the first edition in 2015 in Hong Kong, and the second edition in 2017 in China. The age groups of M/W 20, 18 and 16 are included, to give young Asian orienteers more chances to compete on an international level. This year, the third edition will be held in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture near Tokyo, in the cool late summer of Japan.
Japan is known for many high mountains that offer mountaineering opportunities, but the forests in the foothills offer another kind of experience: fun, challenging orienteering in highly runnable forests.
The championships will run from 27 August to 1 September. If you are 20 or under with citizenship of an eligible Asian nation (as defined by the IOF, as listed in the bulletin here), you should pay attention to the national team selections. If you represent other nations, you can still join and run but cannot get a prize.
Over 20? The organisers say they will hold spectator events, so stay tuned!
2. Asian Trail Orienteering Championships, Hong Kong
I decided to give the spotlight to Trail Orienteering here as, well, it’s good for training patience and orienteering technique. But the big thing is that two major Trail-O events will take place in Hong Kong: the Asian Trail-O Championships in 2019 and the World Trail-O Championships in 2020!
The Asian Trail Orienteering Championships will be held from 29 November to 2 December. So far the Orienteering Association of Hong Kong has not released any info yet but do keep watch.
If you prefer foot orienteering, the Christmas WRE-series will be back to Hong Kong on 22-26 December this year. Time to plan your sunshine trip to Asia maybe?
3. Orienteering World Cup Final, Guangzhou (China)
If you’re an active orienteer, chances are that this doesn’t need any introduction to you—the award of organising rights of the the Orienteering World Cup Final to China has been well advertised. For starters, however, the Orienteering World Cup is a series of events (which includes also the World Orienteering Championships) competed among national teams, with scores awarded according to the World Cup rules. World Cup events attract a lot of spectators who come to cheer for their teams (think a huge crowd cheering for Tove?) Last year (2018) the World Cup Final was held in Prague, Czech Republic with races in the vicinity of the famous Prague Castle.
China offers a very different kind of orienteering experience than Europe—while the vegetation might not be a friend to the forest-loving orienteering geeks, China does offer a very unique sprint orienteering experience—thanks to the tightly knit walled villages of Southern China (圍村/weicun/waichuen) that turn the heads of orienteers around!
Sprint competitions that were held late last year (Historical Road Championships in Guangdong, Asian Championships in Hong Kong) have already shown to the world the thrilling possibilities of orienteering. This year’s World Cup Final, scheduled for 26-29 October, will surely be a great hit—why not reserve a week on your calendar and see for yourself? It’s not known yet if there will be spectator races, but better still if there are!