Asian Games opens with a colourful ceremony in Hangzhou

September 24, 2023 - 07:41
Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a two-week sporting extravaganza that was delayed a year because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Asian Games

Artists perform during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, in east China's Zhejiang Province on September 23. VNA/VNS Photo 

HÀ NỘI — The continental's largest sporting event, the Asian Games, officially began on September 23 after Chinese President Xi Jinping's announcement at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.

Xi launched the two-week sporting extravaganza that was delayed for one year because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

As many as 80,000 spectators and around 12,000 sporting officials, coaches and athletes from 45 nations witnessed the spectacular opening ceremony. It was a dazzling display that celebrated the depth of Chinese culture, history and emphasised unity in diversity.

Wang Shun and a digital torchbearer jointly light the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. AFP/VNA Photo 

The theme of the ceremony was water and it also celebrated Hangzhou's ancient history and landscape, while giving a nod to the city's reputation as the unofficial home of China's tech industry.

A "digital torch bearer" strode into the stadium and was projected onto a large screen behind the Games cauldron at the climax.

In a significant decision, Saturday's opening ceremony omitted the traditional fireworks display as organisers wanted to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible.

The official song of the Games is The Love We Share. Three sporty robots known as the "smart triplets" namely Chenchen, Congcong and Lianlian are the Games' mascots, each representing a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the host city.

From September 23 to October 8, the 19th ASIAD will feature 40 sports, 61 disciplines, and 481 events.

Swimmer Nguyễn Huy Hoàng and shooter Nguyễn Thị Hường were the two Vietnamese flag bearers at the Games. AFP/VNA Photo

China, the host nation, has the most significant representation with 886 athletes competing in 407 events.

Việt Nam sent a team of 504 members competing in 202 events and targeting as many as five golds in strong sports such as athletics, swimming and rowing. Other potential sports are boxing, sepak takraw, shooting, archery and karate.

Athletes will fight for medals in Olympic staples such as athletics, swimming, football, gymnastics and cycling.

ESports will make its debut as a medal event at the Games, in what is seen as a step towards inclusion in the Olympics.

There will also be regional specialties including dragon boat racing, the Chinese martial art wushu and kabaddi.

The delegation from Việt Nam parade into the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games. AFP/VNA Photo

Nine sports - among them boxing, break dancing and tennis - will serve as Asia qualifiers for next year's Paris Olympics.

Although the Games officially opened on Saturday, sports such as football, cricket, volleyball and table tennis had already begun.

The Games will be staged at 54 venues mostly in Hangzhou but also extending to cities as far afield as Wenzhou, 300km south. VNS