By Nick Butler

Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad Al Sabah speaking alongside Vietnamese Sports, Culture and Tourism Minister Hoang Tuan Anh following the meeting ©OCAApril 23 - Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has claimed the "unique strength" of the continental sports family is more important than any penalty after Hanoi withdrew from hosting the 2019 Asian Games. 

This came after a high-level delegation from Vietnam, headed by Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hoang Tuan Anh along with various Government and Vietnam Olympic Committee officials and the Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait, Bui Quoc Trung, visited the OCA headquarters in Kuwait City.

It came less than a week after Hanoi pulled out of hosting the 2019 Asian Games, which they were awarded in November 2012, due to economic pressures.

"We fully understand the situation of Vietnam," said Sheikh Ahmad following the meeting.

"It is a joint decision by the OCA and Vietnam.

"OCA isn't upset about this decision, we welcome the fact that Vietnam could make this decision and give us more time to find a replacement host city.

"I'm very happy to see that Vietnam is honest to themselves and to us, this is the way of the Vietnamese."

"In the Asian sports family, our unity and solidarity is unique, there isn't any kind of penalty, only support and understanding."

Sheikh Ahmad claimed the OCA "still has many happy memories from our Asian Indoor Games in Hanoi in 2009" and "we'd like to offer more support to Vietnam for a successful Asian Beach Games in Nha Trang in 2016".

Hanoi hosted the Asian Indoor Games in 2009 ©AFP/Getty ImagesHanoi hosted the Asian Indoor Games in 2009 ©AFP/Getty Images

Hoang admitted he regretted that Vietnam had to withdraw from the 2019 Games, but claimed it was a decision which had to be made due to economic reasons, before insisting that his country remained fully committed to hosting sporting events.

"The economic recession and strain on the budget put us in a very difficult position to host the Games," he said.

"Vietnam isn't experienced in hosting such a large-scale sports event.

"After understanding all the obstacles in front of us and giving careful consideration, we are looking for OCA's sympathy and understanding for our withdrawal.

"However, I'm able to guarantee that we will host a great Asian Beach Games at Nha Trang in 2016 and we look forward to the continued support of the OCA and Asian sports family.

"We will give our upmost effort to make sure the Olympic Movement in our region will enjoy great success in the future."

A decision on which city will replace Hanoi as 2019 hosts is due to be made on September 20 with Indonesia the current favourites to step in as replacement hosts.

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