The 2018 Asian Games is all done and dusted on Sunday after 16 days (or 24 days if you include the pre-opening ceremony sports) of non-stop action, with Jakarta-Palembang now passing the torch to Hangzhou, the host city of the 2022 edition.

It was an overall successful event, with China winning the most medals with 132 gold from their total of 289 medals, hosts Indonesia performing admirably with 31 gold from 98, and Malaysia meeting their target of seven gold medals.

However, not all participating national contingents left with smiles on their faces, as there were nine countries without a single athlete winning at least a bronze medal. Here, we take a closer look at these countries and how they almost had representatives on the podium...


The 2018 edition was one to forget for Bangladesh, as it was their first Asian Games since 1982 they went home empty-handed. Traditionally strong in kabaddi and cricket, their men’s and women’s teams failed to make it out of the group stage in kabaddi, while cricket was not contested in Indonesia, after being previously held in Guangzhou in 2010 and Incheon in 2014.

Expectations were high too for Bangladeshi shooters Abdullah Hel Baki (men's 10m air rifle) and Shakil Ahmed (men's 10m air pistol), who won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but they failed to qualify for their respective finals.

On the bright side, the men’s hockey team finished sixth, an improvement from their eighth place in 2014, and the men’s football team advanced to the knockout stage for the first time as they lost to North Korea 3-1 in the Round of 16.


Bhutan’s Asian Games medal drought since their debut at Beijing 1990 continues for at least another four years after another underwhelming edition. Archery being their national sport was touted as the one that could’ve broken the duck, but the likes of flag bearer Karma, who competed at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, finished 54th out of 66 archers in the qualifying round and was eliminated in the first round, and Dema Sonam only managed to go one round better.

Taekwondo exponents Yangtsho Sonam (women's -67kg) and Thsering Lham (women's +67kg) arguably came the closest to bagging bronze as they were a match away from reaching their respective semi-finals, which would’ve at least guaranteed them a bronze medal each.


Maldives’ 2018 Asian Games campaign would mostly be remembered for their crushing defeats in men’s and women’s football, but the islanders still had causes to celebrate. Juneez Aminath Jaaisha (5:14s) broke the national women's 1500m record set by Mariyam Inaya Farooq (5:16s) in 2010, and the women’s badminton team went one up better than they did four years ago as they reached the quarter-finals after beating Nepal.


Yemen's two Asian Games medal wins to date are from martial art events (taekwondo bronze in 2002 and wushu bronze in 2006), so it was no surprise that their closest medal challenge in Indonesia was a form of self-defence. Hasan Gaber Alquhali was defeated by Syhazberdi Owelekow of Turkmenistan in a bronze medal match in the men's Greco-Roman 87kg event on August 22 — just three days after the 23-year-old failed in another medal bid in the men's freestyle wrestling 74 kg event.


Going home empty-handed, Oman could count themselves unlucky in several events. For instance, 2010 bronze medal-winning sprinter Barakat Al Harthi crashed out in the men's 100m semi-finals in a photo finish, while sailing duo Waleed Issa Al-Habashi Al Kendi and Musab Mohammed Sulaiyam Al Hadi finished level on points in the men's 49er event with bronze medal winners Varun Thakkar and Ganapathy Chengappa of India but lost out due to their fewer number of race wins.

Obaid Al-Saadi also set a new national record (20.74s) en route to qualifying for the men's 200m final, in which he finished seventh.

Sri Lanka

It was New Delhi 1982, Seoul 1986 and Guangzhou 2010 all over again for Sri Lanka as they failed to win any medal in Indonesia. Of the 28 sports they participated in, the closest they almost won a bronze medal were in badminton, athletics and rugby sevens: men's doubles pair Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonethilleka lost to world no. 2 Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen in the quarter-finals; the men's 4x400m relay quartet came fourth in the final; and they lost 11-36 to South Koera in a bronze medal decider.


Timor-Leste did not have plenty to shout about with their 2018 Asian Games run, but pencak silat was arguably their best chance of winning their first-ever Asian Games medal since their debut in 2002 as Joaquim Afonso Gomes (men's 50kg-55kg) and Silvestre dos Santos Barbosa (men's 55kg-60kg) fell one match short of bagging bronze.


Chances of winning a medal were low for Brunei, whose last Asian Games medal was Tong Kit Siong's karate bronze in 2002, to begin with as they only sent 15 athletes to compete in seven events in Indonesia, but they did come close in wushu and pencak silat.

​In the women's taijiquan and taijijian routine event, 15-year-old wushu exponent Basma Lachkar scored 9.68 points in taijiquan to be in joint-third position, but she did not fare well in the latter event to drop to 13th. Meanwhile, the pencak silat trio of Anisah Najihah Abdullah, Qistina Athirah Zainal and Nur Azimatunnaemah Simat (447 points) finished one point behind bronze medalists Thailand (448) in the women’s team artistic event.


Palestine’s best 2018 Asian Games performance was arguably from their men’s football team. After being accidentally omitted from an initial draw, they were reinstated in the competition and went on to reach the Round of 16, equaling their feat in Incheon four years ago. They also recorded a win against hosts Indonesia in the group stage.