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The Asian Games can trace its origins to the Far Eastern Championship Games and the West Asiatic Games, although the concept of the Asian Games was not formalized until 1949.

The Far Eastern Championship Games had their origins in the 1st Oriental Olympics held in Manila, the Philippines in 1913. The Philippines, China and Japan were the only countries/NOCs to contest the early meetings, which were held every two years until the 10th Far Eastern Championship Games in 1934. Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong also contested the later meetings. The 11th Far Eastern Championship Games were to have been held in Osaka, Japan in 1938, but were canceled because of the outbreak of war.

Around the same time, the 1st West Asiatic Games took place in New Delhi, India in 1934. Planned for countries in the Indian subcontinent and West Asia, these games saw the participation of India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Palestine.

In 1948, sports leaders from six countries - Korea, the Philippines, Myanmar, India, Chinese Taipei, and Sri Lanka - agreed to launch a new continental sports event for Asia. With the participation of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of these countries, the Asian Games Federation (AGF) was consequently established in 1949, founding a new and permanent organization responsible for ensuring the continuation, development and stability of the Asian Games.

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