The mayor of Osaka, hosts of the 2001 East Asian Games, said he would welcome Australia's participation in four years time. Dr Takafumi Isomura said he would not object to Australia competing in the Osaka Games, despite resistance from Hong Kong and Japan. The East Asian Games Association two weeks ago agreed to invite Australia to the Games, falling short of admitting them as associate members. However, less than a week later, the Olympic Council of Asia enacted rules requiring regional Games to allow only countries within their region to compete. It is the decision of organisers on whether or not they implement the OCA's ruling. Said Isomura: 'If Australia joined the East Asian Games, they would be a very strong team among the East Asian countries. This will make countries train harder for the Games, which would become more exciting.' Osaka's East Asian Games venture in 2001 is part of a bigger plan to eventually bring the world's ultimate sporting festival, the Olympic Games, to the port city in 2008. Among the candidates for the 2008 Olympics is Pusan, hosts of this month's 2nd East Asian Games, and Japanese rivals Yokohama.