23rd September 2023 – (Hangzhou) The 19th Asian Games commenced in Hangzhou with a captivating and technologically advanced opening ceremony, marking the beginning of an event that promises to leave a lasting impression. The ceremony, held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, dubbed “Big Lotus,” mesmerized spectators with a theme centred around water, combining traditional Chinese elements with modern visual effects.
Themed “Tides of Asia,” the opening ceremony symbolized China’s integration and connection with Asia and the world. The performances showcased the diverse interpretations of “water” and emphasized its unstoppable surging movement, signifying progress and unity.
As athletes from 45 countries and regions entered the stadium, a large floor screen transformed into a regimental fan shape, infused with a distinctive Jiangnan flavour. The rhythmic beats of osmanthus flower drums and the uplifting melodies of Chinese folk music resonated throughout the venue, evoking a sense of excitement and encouragement for all participating athletes. The audience joined in applauding the representatives from each country, creating an atmosphere of warmth and camaraderie.
Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), expressed his gratitude to the spectators and the people of Hangzhou for their warm welcome, hospitality, and friendship. Singh commended the Organizing Committee (HAGOC) and expressed optimism for the grandeur and success of the 19th Asian Games.
Following Singh’s remarks, Chinese President Xi Jinping officially declared the 19th Asian Games open, marking the beginning of the highly anticipated sporting event.
The opening ceremony unfolded in three chapters, incorporating traditional Chinese elements such as “qin, chess, calligraphy, painting, poetry, wine, and tea” into the props. The use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and virtual imaging lanterns created a captivating fusion of Chinese and Asian styles, symbolizing unity among the people of Asia.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the lighting of the main torch, a joint effort by Olympic champion swimmer Wang Shun and over 100 million “digital torchbearers.” The integration of digital technology and green energy was a standout feature of the ceremony, captivating viewers with its stunning visuals.
Utilising cutting-edge digital technology, the opening ceremony projected the Qiantang River and the iconic Gongchen Bridge onto the stage, creating a seamless blend of ancient and modern imagery. Naked-eye 3D visual effects and virtual images added depth and realism to the presentation, providing viewers worldwide with a unique and immersive experience.
The lighting of the main torch tower showcased the innovative “virtual and reality integration” lighting ceremony for the first time. Over 100 million online participants, known as “digital torchbearers,” converged on the Qiantang River in a symbolic digital representation, joining the torchbearer Wang Shun at the main venue to collectively ignite the main torch. This groundbreaking display demonstrated the harmony between the digital and real worlds, signifying the shared destiny of Asia.
The online Asian Games “digital torchbearer” relay activity, initiated alongside the physical torch relay, attracted over 104 million participants before the opening ceremony. The scale and scope of this online engagement were unprecedented in China, showcasing the country’s technological capabilities and commitment to inclusivity.
The development of a lightweight and efficient Web3-D engine played a crucial role in facilitating the participation of millions of individuals as digital torchbearers. The Alipay Asian Games Office of Ant Group spearheaded this initiative, conducting extensive testing with hundreds of mobile devices to ensure a seamless user experience. The goal was to enable anyone with a smartphone to become a digital torchbearer, emphasizing the Hangzhou Asian Games as a smart event driven by scientific and technological innovation.
The opening ceremony also made history by incorporating green zero-carbon methanol in the lighting of the main torch. This environmentally friendly approach, combined with the use of electronic fireworks, provided a visually stunning spectacle for the global audience.
The captivating opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games showcased China’s organisational prowess and commitment to fostering international collaboration. The event not only celebrated the city’s historical and cultural significance but also highlighted Hangzhou’s hospitality, openness, and tolerance—core values deeply ingrained in Chinese civilization.
Zhang Yiwu, a professor from Peking University, praised the ceremony for its ability to unite Asia through sports and provide a platform for cultural exchange. He noted that the Hangzhou Asian Games signifies Asia’s growing prominence on the global stage and serves as a testament to China’s role as a key player in the region.
The 19th Asian Games, scheduled to take place from 23rd September to 8th October, will see the participation of approximately 12,500 athletes from 45 countries and regions, marking a record high in the history of the Asian Games. As the event unfolds, athletes and spectators alike eagerly anticipate the thrilling competitions and the excitement that the Hangzhou Asian Games will bring. With its innovative opening ceremony setting the tone, this edition of the Asian Games promises to be a memorable and groundbreaking event for athletes and spectators from around the world.