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Tea Leaves

Asia's aging sports stars never say 'retire'

Durability of the region's professional athletes puzzles outsiders

Elderly Western visitors to East Asia often say they enjoy their trips partly because of the respect accorded to older people. But these cultural habits can hold back countries such as Japan and South Korea when it comes to sport.

The saga of Japanese footballer Kazuyoshi Miura could not have happened in Europe. I started covering Asian sports in the late 1990s when "King Kazu," who debuted for Japan in 1990, was approaching what appeared to be the final stages of a storied career.

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