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Tokyo's Olympic win underlines Asia's sporting appeal

By Julian Linden

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee's decision to award the 2020 summer Olympics to Tokyo on Saturday reaffirmed the shifting power-base of global sport.

After decades where sport's biggest events were mostly split between Europe and North America, international organisations are increasingly turning to Asia.

The region's appeal to sporting bodies is obvious and irresistible. Asia is home to more than half of the world's population and boasts the fastest growing regional economy in the world.

Although Asia has hosted a sprinkling of major events over the past half-century, there has been a steady increase in the past decade and the next seven years is going to be a boom time for sport in the region.

In addition to staging the 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan has also been picked to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup after unsuccessfully bidding for the 2011 tournament.

South Korea - which co-hosted the 2002 Soccer World Cup with Japan when the tournament was awarded to Asia for the first and so far only time, - is also getting ready to host a range of big events, including the 2018 Winter Olympics.

After losing out to Vancouver for 2010 then Sochi for 2014, Pyeongchang was awarded the 2018 Games.

The country will also hold the world swimming championships for the first time in 2019 and the Presidents Cup golf tournament in 2015.

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, is the site for the next world athletics championships in 2015 while Nanjing, the capital of China's Jiangsu province, will stage next year's Youth Olympics.

Singapore, one of a handful of Asian countries on the Formula One motor racing calendar, has been selected as the host for the end-of-season Women's Tennis Association championships for the next five years.

There may be more to come. On Tuesday, the IOC will elect a new president and two of the six candidates are Asian, Taiwan's Wu Ching-kuo and Singapore's Ng Ser Miang, who is one of the favourites.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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