Diving diva Guo Jingjing and hurdles hero Liu Xiang will lead a powerful China team at the East Asian Games in Macau next month, organisers announced yesterday. The Athens Olympics golden duo are the major draws in a field of 1,920 athletes from nine countries and regions to contest the fourth East Asian Games from October 29 to November 6. 'I am very satisfied with the quality of the entry from all nine National Olympic Committees,' the chairman of the board of directors of the organising committee, Manuel Silverio, said. 'We have 62 medallists from previous Olympic Games, Asian Games, East Asian Games and World Championships, including Liu Xiang and Guo Jingjing, so we can look forward to some exciting sports action in Macau. 'For sure China will be the number one in the medal rankings at the end of the games, but Japan and South Korea can cause surprises; even North Korea, because they always have strong athletes.' China will have the largest number of athletes with 399, followed by Japan (337), South Korea (305), Macau (253), Taiwan (246), Hong Kong (193), North Korea (94), Mongolia (80) and Guam (13). Although North Korea took part in the inaugural East Asian Games, in Shanghai in 1993, they skipped the next two, in Pusan, South Korea, in 1997 and in Osaka, Japan, four years ago. Silverio welcomed them back to the fold. 'I visited North Korea and talked to the sports minister and the president of the NOC, and they think Macau is a safe place for them. They weren't there in the last two East Asian Games, but they didn't want to lose this very good opportunity to join the East Asian family in Macau.' There will be 17 sports in the nine-day programme, and North Korea will compete in nine men's and nine women's events. While it's no surprise that they will not contest the dance sport, it is something of a mystery why they have not entered any athletes in taekwondo, which has its origins in Korea. With the 1,920 athletes being accompanied by 761 officials, the final entry is 2,681, down slightly from the expected figure of 2,945 compiled from the nine NOCs' provisional entry two months ago. This has led to the cancellation of one event, the women's shooting 10-metre moving target, reducing the number of events in the 17 sports to 234 and the total number of medals available from 734 to 731. When asked how he thought Macau would fare against the East Asian super powers China, Japan and South Korea, Silverio said three gold medals was a reasonable target. 'For sure we will have the best performance of a Macau team since we started competing at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing,' he said. 'Times have changed and we have developed our sports, and you can see how brilliant our young generation are. 'Our sports federations have gained experience and we have seen a great improvement in our facilities. In wushu we have a rich experience, and also karate,' said Silverio.