Most Popular Sports in Various Asian Countries

Most Popular Sports in Various Asian Countries

Sports are an integral part of human society. Since the earliest civilizations, people have participated in physical competitions, either for glory, money, or fun. Over the years, the sports world has changed significantly. First of all, they are far more popular than ever before.

Billions of people from all over the world tune in to watch football, cricket, tennis, and basketball competitions. And of course, the sports world has become a lot more homogeneous. Football is the dominant sport around the globe.

However, in Asia, there are a couple of countries where soccer is not the dominant force. So, in this article, we would like to look at which sports are the most popular in which Asian countries.

India – Cricket

Where cricket is concerned, India rules. They are currently ranked first in two out of the three major cricket formats. Their national team is one of the best, if not the best, and some of the best players in the world today come from the country.

And not only that, but cricket is also the most popular betting sport in the country. In Asia, online sports betting is not as popular as in Europe. Not every country has legalized the practice, and in fact, it is illegal in most countries. However, India is an exception.

While in most of the continent, betting is illegal, online sportsbooks like let people in Asia bet on all of their favorite sports. Bookies are especially popular in India, where online gambling is not illegal. Cricket is especially popular to bet on. However, fans of any sport can find what they are looking for using the website.

During the 1800s, the English introduced cricket to India, when merchants, soldiers, sailors, and expats played the game among each other. Pretty soon, the local population embraced the game, and played it among themselves.

Of course, Indian cricket has come a long way since then. As we said, they are the dominant team in Twenty20 International. They also, up until recently, were ranked number 1 in Test cricket, though have been overtaken by Australia recently. In ODI cricket, they are ranked second. 

Japan – Sumo/Baseball

In Japan, sports are a very integral part of culture and society. Martial arts and team sports are both incredibly popular in the country. In a way, the divide perfectly captures the two sides of Japanese society (traditional and progressive).

For traditional Japanese martial arts, the most popular sport in the country is sumo wrestling. The Japanese consider it their national sport, and it is one of the two most popular sports in the country. For western import games, baseball is by far the most dominant.

1. Sumo

Sumo is a form of full-contact wrestling, where each competitor (titled rikishi) attempts to force the other out of the ring, or into touching the ground. The sport involves palm strikes as well as grappling techniques.

The sport dates back to the Ancient era of Japan. In fact, there are prehistoric wall paintings, which suggest that sumo has existed much further back than we believe. Today, it is Japan’s favorite martial art to watch, and an important aspect of Japanese culture.

2. Baseball

The Japanese first learned about baseball during the 1800s. The Meiji Restoration period saw Japan open up to various western influences. The new government dismantled the old systems of power, and adopted a western mindset. They established trade with various European powers, most notably Germany, and the United States.

And it was the US traders that brought baseball to the country. Soon enough, baseball became an incredibly popular game. Today, it is by far the most popular sport in the country, and one of the sports in which Japan thrives.

The Japanese baseball team currently holds the 1st ranking in the world, according to the Baseball Softball Confederation. They’ve won the World Baseball Classic on three different occasions, most recently in 2023. The team has also won the WBSC Premier12. Certainly, Samurai Japan is one of the most successful national baseball teams in the world.

3. Betting

In Japan, online gambling is heavily restricted. However, it is not outright illegal. Football pools are legal, for example, though only through state-approved operators. Betting on horse and auto racing is legal as well. And finally, certain online lotteries and pachinko games are legal as well. However, anything else is strictly prohibited.

China – Football

The history of football is murky. Games where players kick a ball around have existed since the Ancient era. The rules for modern football were written in England, in the 1800s. However, China has long claimed that football is a Chinese invention.

During the Han Dynasty, the official rules for a game called cuju (translates directly to “kick ball”) first appeared. The game resembles soccer in many ways. Two dozen-player teams compete on a court, attempting to kick a ball into a goal.

In other words, China does have a claim to being football’s inventors. But, whether the sport originated in China, Ancient Greece, or Victorian England is irrelevant. What matters is how popular the game has become.

Billions of people around the world gather to watch and enjoy the game. And China is no different. The Chinese national football team is quite successful in Asia, having won the East Asian Cup twice.

However, on the world stage, they are not as successful as some other Asian countries. They’ve only had one World Cup appearance, in 2002, during which they lost each of their matches without scoring a single goal.

Other Worthy Mentions

We focused on three major Asian countries in this article. However, there are still a couple of countries we would like to talk about. In this final section, we will simply list off a couple of Asian countries, and mention the most popular sports within.

  • Republic of Korea – Baseball
  • Pakistan – Cricket
  • Australia – Australian Rules Football
  • United Arab Emirates – Football
  • Thailand – Football and Muay Thai

These are just a few of the most popular sports in various Asian countries. If we were to look at the entirety of Asia, we would find that association football is by far the most popular sport, followed closely by cricket.

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