Dragons, Elvis and singing mayor surprise OCA general assembly

Takashi Kawamura, mayor of Nagoya, the Asian Games 2026 co-host, stunned delegates first with a bizarre request and then a passable Elvis Presley impersonation.

After having been serenaded, Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah (in picture) quickly called for a coffee break. Photo: Getty Images

Olympic Council for Asia (OCA) delegates could be forgiven for thinking they had wandered into a Jakarta karaoke joint after being subjected to a surprise serenade on Sunday.

The Japanese cities of Nagoya and Aichi will stage the 20th Asian Games in 2026. And during the joint hosts’ report to the OCA general assembly taking place on the sidelines of the 18th Asian Games, Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura stunned delegates first with a bizarre request and then a passable Elvis Presley impersonation.


The representatives of 45 Asian countries probably couldn’t quite believe their ears when first Kawamura implored OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah to help him acquire two of Indonesia’s famous Komodo dragons for his city’s zoo. Kawamura then tried to drive home his plea by crooning his own version of Elvis’s hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Abrupt break

Only, he changed the lyrics in front of the smiling, but slightly embarrassed, Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmed to “I can’t help falling in love with Asian people and the Komodo dragon.” It was such a hard act to follow that Sheikh Ahmed quickly called for a coffee break in the day-long meeting of Asia’s top sports administrators at Jakarta’s Mulia Hotel.

Earlier, the OCA general assembly approved Sanya in China to be the venue of the sixth Asian Beach Games in 2020 and heard progress reports from Asia’s next two Olympics hosts, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022. Sheikh Ahmad also presented the OCA Award to Indonesia’s Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, in recognition of his work in leading the organisation of the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, which began with a spectacular opening ceremony on Saturday.

Overcoming difficulties

Sheikh Ahmad pointed out that Indonesia had organised the Games in under three years following the withdrawal of original host Vietnam. “Yesterday we witnessed the first success of the Games — the Opening Ceremony,” said Sheikh Ahmad. “There were a lot of difficulties to reach that goal.”

On receiving the award, Kalla said the Games symbolised the commitment of the people of Asia to build a better world and embrace the Olympic spirit. “I hope these Asian Games will inspire and encourage all the athletes in the build-up to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo,” he said.

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