Representatives from 43 Asian countries are set to hold discussions over the next two days in Bangkok ©OCA

Representatives from 43 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are set to attend a two-day Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Athletes' Forum, beginning here tomorrow with a video address from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

It is the first time the OCA has been able to stage an Athletes' Forum since 2018, and 88 participants have travelled to Thailand's capital Bangkok.

Bach's video message is due to be followed by welcome speeches from OCA director general and World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam and the NOC of Thailand and OCA vice-president Dato Seri Chaiyapak Siriwat.

The OCA Athletes' Committee is headed up by former Japanese swimmer Mikako Kotani, who is set to deliver a presentation on its work alongside an update on the challenges faced by Asian athletes.

 Pakistan's International Hockey Federation President Mohammad Tayyab Ikram, vice-chair of the OCA Athletes' Committee, will accompany Kotani.

The IOC Athletes' Committee is also due to deliver a presentation on the first day through chair Emma Terho of Finland and first vice-chair Ryu Seung-min of South Korea.

At the Forum, discussions are expected to be held on the issues of safeguarding, the prevention of the manipulation of competitions, athlete career development and the fight against doping.

It is hoped that the panel discussions, question and answer sessions and breakout groups can help Athletes' Committees from across the continent to develop action plans and their priorities.

The Forum is set to conclude with a series of recommendations and closing remarks.

Notable speakers including OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam are due to address the Athletes' Forum ©OCA
Notable speakers including OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam are due to address the Athletes' Forum ©OCA

OCA head of athletes development and special projects Tony Tarraf expressed his belief that the Forum will serve the interests of athletes across Asia.

"We have a varied panel of speakers, including a few from the International Olympic Committee as well as Olympic Solidarity," he said.

"This workshop will be immensely beneficial to all Athletes’ Committees in our region.

"This will be an informative workshop and one that will benefit the Athletes’ Committees in Asia.

"Our goal is that the participants take back key knowledge so that they can apply it back home."

Kotani outlined her hopes for the Forum.

"It's been five years since we last met in Tokyo so I want to get them to know each other, to exchange knowledge and experience, and exchange information - that's first," she said.

"And second, we will be presenting many educational presentations, and I want them to listen and learn.

"The most important thing is not just listen, but to bring it back to their own country and activate as Athletes Committees to support the athletes, that's our main focus."

Olympic 10 metres air rifle shooting gold medallist Abhinav Bindra of India, Jordanian taekwondo athlete Nadin Dawani and Afghan cyclist and IOC Refugee Team member Masomah Ali Zada are among those set to speak at the Forum.

One key topic concerning Asia in the Olympic Movement is the OCA's proposal for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to international competitions in Asia.

This has been welcomed by the IOC as it explores a pathway for a controversial return of athletes from both countries, with those plans prompting an angry response in Ukraine.

The IOC has said it would ensure "Asian athletes will not lose out" should the proposal be further advanced.

The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa unanimously endorsed the IOC's stance at its Athletes' Forum last weekend.