24th September 2023 – (Hangzhou) In a grand ceremony held on Saturday night at the magnificent Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang Province, Chinese President Xi Jinping officially declared the 19th Asian Games open. The opening ceremony, marked by its innovative and captivating elements, showcased China’s commitment to hosting a remarkable sporting event.
The climax of the ceremony featured an extraordinary digital cauldron-lighting ceremony. Millions of torchbearers transformed digital flames into a digital human figure on the Qiantang River, which then ignited the cauldron alongside swimming Olympic champion Wang Shun. Wang was the final torchbearer in a relay of six athletes who carried the real flame inside the stadium. This mesmerizing display demonstrated the fusion of technology and tradition, leaving spectators in awe.
The Hangzhou Asian Games, originally scheduled for the previous year but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marks China’s third time hosting the prestigious event. Beijing hosted the Games in 1990, followed by Guangzhou in 2010. The long-awaited arrival of the Asian Games in Hangzhou brings excitement and anticipation to athletes and fans alike.
During his speech at the opening ceremony, Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), commended the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) for their exceptional preparations. Singh acknowledged the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic and praised HAGOC’s diligence and determination. He expressed confidence that their hard work would yield the most magnificent and successful Asian Games ever witnessed over the next 16 days.
The athletes’ parade saw participants enter the stadium in alphabetical order based on their respective national or regional Olympic Committee names. Yang Liwei, captain of the Chinese women’s basketball team, and swimming world champion Qin Haiyang proudly carried the Chinese national flag. The crowd erupted with applause and cheers as the Chinese delegation marched in, symbolizing the nation’s unity and support for its athletes.
Under the theme of ‘Tides Surging in Asia,’ the cultural performance of the opening ceremony beautifully incorporated the presence of water. Water symbolized the memories of the Qiantang River, the thrill of sports, the spirit of Zhejiang, and the pulse of the times. The performance also depicted the connection between China, Asia, and the rest of the world. Vertical LED screens showcased iconic buildings from various Asian countries and regions, promoting a message of coexistence and harmony.
The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of numerous state leaders and international dignitaries, including King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, among others. Their attendance underscored the significance of the Asian Games as a platform for global unity and cooperation.
From September 23 to October 8, the Hangzhou Asian Games will feature an impressive lineup of 40 sports, 61 disciplines, and 481 events. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to secure 74 quota slots for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games across nine sports, including archery and tennis.
China, the host nation, is proudly represented by a contingent of 886 athletes participating in 407 events across 38 sports. With their home advantage and the support of passionate Chinese spectators, the athletes are poised to deliver extraordinary performances and strive for excellence.
The 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou promise to be a celebration of athleticism, cultural exchange, and camaraderie among nations. As the sporting events unfold, the world eagerly awaits the remarkable achievements and inspiring stories that will emerge from this prestigious international competition.