INCHEON, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- Despite some hiccups, the 17th Asian Games in South Korea's western city of Incheon was a big success as it represented unity of the continent and sent a message of peace to the world, the president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said Saturday.
The continental competition was to draw to an end, with the closing ceremony due later in the day, after 15 days of drama where more than 14,000 athletes and staff from 45 countries competed for 439 gold medals in 36 sports.
"I can announce the success of the 17th Asian Games," OCA chief Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah told a news conference. "With all the good memories with tears and smiles, this was the concert of the ideals of the games."
Noting that the Asiad had 14 new world records and 28 Asian ones, he said the sheer numbers "show the development of the sports in this continent."
"We had a big question mark whether the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea will participate or not, but they were here, and today in the closing ceremony, its officials will attend it," the chief said. "That is the concept of this Asian Games. This shows how we can solve a lot of things through the sports."
North Korea sent a 273-member delegation to the multisport event in Incheon and a separate delegation made up of leader Kim Jong-un's key aides -- Hwang Pyong-so, top political officer of the Korean People's Army, Choe Ryong-hae and Kim Yang-gon -- was scheduled to attend the closing ceremony and meet with Seoul's national security adviser, Kim Kwan-jin, and Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae.
As tell-tale examples of harmony beyond political and ideological rows, Al-Sabah cited the showdowns between India and Pakistan in the men's hockey final and South and North Korea in the men's football final as examples where athletes competed in a fair manner and spectators gave warm applauses to all those on the ground.
"This is why the OCA is proud; we not only delivered this success with the high level of operations, but also showed our unity and solidarity. We are proud of the champions from Asia," he said.
He admitted to some drawbacks found in the competition such as doping cases and some minor crimes, but he stressed that is just a small part of the story.
"If you see through the whole picture, it sent us a positive signal in terms of legality, athletes, accommodations, media, security and overall operations," Al-Sabah said. "Everybody was smiling and everybody was satisfied with the success and with the games. All have done a great job."