The 19th Asian Games, the largest sporting event in Asia, officially began on Saturday with a spectacular opening ceremony at the lotus-shaped Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium. Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the Games open and delivered a speech that highlighted the unity and friendship among the Asian countries.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait and South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo were among the invited guests.
The ceremony, which lasted for about two hours, featured a futuristic light show that showcased China’s technological prowess and cultural heritage. The theme of the ceremony was “Tides Surging in Asia”, symbolizing the convergence of China, Asia, and the world in the new era.
The ceremony began with a countdown and a display of digital fireworks, followed by a performance of traditional Chinese music and dance. The performers wore costumes inspired by the ancient civilizations along the Silk Road, representing the diversity and harmony of Asia.
The next segment of the ceremony focused on the element of water, as the Qiantang River, which flows through Hangzhou, is known for its spectacular tidal bore. The stadium was transformed into a giant water screen, where images of waves, fish, and lotus flowers were projected. The water screen also displayed greetings from athletes and spectators from different countries and regions.
The highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of the cauldron, which was done in a unique way that combined virtual and physical worlds. The torch relay involved torchbearers from various fields, such as sports, culture, science, and education. The final torchbearer was Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who passed the torch to a virtual torchbearer in a holographic projection. The virtual torchbearer then flew to the top of the stadium and ignited the cauldron, which resembled a blooming lotus.
The ceremony also featured performances by famous singers and celebrities from China and other Asian countries—songs expressed the themes of peace, love, and hope for the future.
The ceremony ended with a rendition of the Asian Games anthem “Ever Onward”, sung by all the performers and participants. The audience waved flags and cheered as fireworks lit up the night sky.
The Hangzhou Asian Games will run until October 8, with more than 12,000 athletes from 45 countries competing in 481 events across 56 venues. The Games are expected to showcase China’s achievements in hosting major sports events amid as well as its commitment to promoting green development and innovation.