More than 2,000 athletes kicked off the Asian Beach Games Saturday in Haiyang, a small town on China's east coast. Competitors will participate in sports such as beach sepaktakraw, a cross between volleyball and soccer, and beach kabaddi, a highly physical mix of tag and wrestling. Among "the more mainstream sports" at the seven-day tournament, held every two years, are sailing and beach volleyball. Athletes this year have come from 45 countries such as Japan, Kazakhstan and Yemen (AFP, 6/14).
PROTECTING YOUR OWN: In Bangkok, Wayne Hay reported the Thai government has banned the "fast rising sport" of cage fighting, or mixed martial arts, calling it "brutal." It seems "part of the reason" is to protect the popular Thai sport of Muay Thai, a form of kick boxing. The government's sports authority said that it "wants to shield the sport from outside influences." Those behind MMA have "vowed to fight the ban" (AL-JAZEERA, 6/16).