The popularity of sports across Asia is almost diverse as the countries and people of the continent itself. Unlike in Europe where football is king, many Asian countries have a different sport that is popular and most played in their own country.
From football to cricket to baseball and some others, the variety of sports that are popular throughout Asia is quite extensive. Here are the most played sports in Asia for 2020.
1. Association football
Association football is the most popular and played sport in most Asian countries. This does not apply to some of the most populous countries in the continent, though, as China, Japan and India all have other sports atop the popularity list.
Association football is played in many countries — even the ones named above — which is one of the reasons why it’s the most played sport in the entire world. It’s played with the same rules as European football and American soccer, for the most part.
Countries have club teams and leagues that participate throughout the year, and they also send teams to Champions Leagues and even the World Cup.
The most played sport in the Indian subcontinent is cricket. This includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In fact, Pakistan and India have a very heated rival in this sport, which was first played way back in 1721.
Along with England, New Zealand, the West Indies, Australia and South Africa, India is part of the “elite club” of cricket countries, joining in 1932.
The annual matchup between India and Pakistan is one of the most-watched broadcasts on TV every year. It also attracts tons of gambling action.
Like in other countries, sports betting is very popular throughout Asia. While cricket isn’t among the most bet sports in the world, the India-Pakistan annual matchup attracts plenty of attention in these two countries especially. Fans of the game are occasionally looking for websites that offer such opportunities. There are a lot of sports betting sites in India, but as described here players must be very careful when the choose operator to place their bets.
In Japan, baseball takes center stage. The sport was first introduced to the country back in 1872, and the first professional league commenced around 1920. Today, Nippon Professional Baseball is one of the most highly-regarded professional baseball leagues in the world, behind Major League Baseball in the United States.
Japanese baseball uses slightly different rules than the traditional ones in MLB, including a small strike zone, smaller ball and different length of games.
The sport of baseball is popular in Japan not only at the professional level but at the amateur level as well. Thousands of people annually watch the High School Baseball Championship in person, with millions watching on TV. Youth baseball teams in the country also regularly compete at the Little League World Series in America.
4. Table Tennis
China’s most played sport is table tennis. For many years, table tennis was actually the only sport played in China. It’s a sport that became very popular in the country because it’s easy and inexpensive to assemble and play.
More than 300 million Chinese people watch the Olympics men’s singles Gold Medal match at the most recent Olympic Games, which featured two players from China squaring off. While many other countries enjoy playing the game of table tennis — or ping pong, as it’s referred to other places — nowhere is it more popular or played than in China.
In the Philippines, the most popular and played sport is basketball. It was first introduced to the country during the American colonial period, back in 1910, and it took off ever since.
The country has participated in the Olympic Games for basketball since way back in 1936. Even when the country became independent in 1946, the sport remained popular.
Today, the Philippines compete in many FIBA Basketball World Cups and other competitions around the globe.
In some countries, the martial arts sport of kickboxing reigns supreme. Two of the countries where it’s most popular are the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos.
In Cambodia, the sport is known as Pradal Serey. It’s a sport much like traditional boxing, where the goal is to strike and knock down — or knock out — the opponent in a one-on-one matchup. The major difference between the two is that in kickboxing, competitors can use their feet to strike their opponent with kicks.
The sport was at one time banned during the 1970s in Cambodia, but it has been making a strong comeback ever since. Today, it is one of the most played sports in both Cambodia, Laos and some other Asian countries. Other forms of martial arts are also popular around Asia, where it has a deep-rooted history.