This year, the quadrennial Asian Games – a massive sports event that often gets mixed up with some of its regional variants – will be hosted here in Southeast Asia. We appraise several local sports that set the Asiad’s lineup apart from its Olympic counterpart, and drop in on three unique sportspeople gearing up for August. But the 18th Games’ most interesting aspect could just be its return to Indonesia, a place where, over a half-century ago, Jakarta’s controversial hosting decisions shocked the 1960s’ worlds of sports and politics. Indonesian politics also kicks off another fascinating tale: how five Southeast Asian men managed to create the first Asian miracle of the 20th century: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Helped by a few rounds of golf and drinks, these powerful diplomats succeeded in getting their respective countries – many with histories of bitter grudges and border invasions – to team up into a bloc that today still merits international admiration. Their surviving family and friends share memories of these master negotiators.
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