Before the Asian Games were held, an event known as the Far Eastern Games existed at a location set between Japan, the Philippines, and China. The Games were first held in Manila in 1913, and ten more Games were held until 1934. After some political problems the Games scheduled for 1938 were cancelled and the organization was ultimately discontinued. During the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, a conversation between sportsmen from China and the Philippines raised the idea of restoring the Games. However, Guru Dutt Sondhi, the Indian IOC representative, did not believe that restoration of the Games would sufficiently display the spirit of unity and proposed the idea of having new competition, which came to be the Asian Games.
The Asian Games Federation (AGF) was formally inaugurated in 1949, in New Delhi, India, which was announced as the first host city of the Asian Games in 1951. The Games are recognized by the IOC and are described as the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games. There was a three-year gap between the first two editions, and since then, the Games have been held every four years. In 1962, the host country Indonesia, refused to permit the participation of Israel and Taiwan due to political and religious issues. As a result, the IOC removed its sponsorship of the Games and terminated Indonesia as one of the IOC members. The AFC, IAAF and IWF, also removed their recognition of the Games.
In 1970, South Korea dropped its plan to host the Games allegedly due to the national security crisis, however, the main reason was due to the financial crisis, forcing the previous host Thailand to administer the Games again in Bangkok. This edition also marked the first time the Games had a television broadcasting throughout the world. In Tehran, Iran, in 1974, Israel was allowed to participate despite the opposition from Arab world, and that was their last participation in Games. Prior to the 1978 Games, Pakistan cancelled its plan to be host in 1975 due to financial and political crisis. Thailand offered to help and the Games were once again held in Bangkok. However, like in 1962, Taiwan and Israel were refused participation by the Games Federation.
Following this series of crises, a new association, named the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), was created in 1981 excluding Israel, and formally supervised the Games starting with the 1986 Games in South Korea. In 1994, in Hiroshima, Japan, the Games included the former republics of the Soviet Union for the first time. In history, 9 nations have hosted the Games, and 51 sports have been part of the Games at one point or another. Of the 46 NOC participating throughout the history of the Games, 43 nations have won at least a single medal in the competition, 38 nations have won at least one gold medal. Only 7 countries, namely India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand have competed in all editions of the games.