The 19th Asian Games opened on the evening of September 23 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony and declared the Games open.
Party and state leaders Cai Qi and Ding Xuexiang, as well as leaders and distinguished guests from different parts of Asia attended the opening ceremony.
Against the night sky, the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, located on the bank of the Qiantang River, was illuminated with dazzling lights. The lotus-shaped building witnessed the lighting of the Asian Games flame for the third time in China.
Before the opening ceremony, people from all over Zhejiang presented cultural and artistic performances with local characteristics, creating a lively atmosphere.
At 19:58, along with the music Peace – Community with a Shared Future, Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, Raja Randhir Singh, the acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stepped into the podium and waved to the audience. Long and enthusiastic applause arose throughout the stadium.
September 23 coincides with the Autumn Equinox, one of the 24 solar terms on the Chinese lunar calendar, symbolizing harvest in Chinese culture. At 20:00, the welcome performance Water in Autumn Glow began with the enthusiastic drumming of 19 “Cong”, the ancient ritual vessels made by jade with rectangular sides. With the countdown showing in the center of the stadium, the audience shouted in unison.
On the huge flat screen that covers the stadium’s center, jade Cong, jade bird, god’s emblems and ancient city ruins emerged one by one. From green to gold, the screen shows the natural course of ploughing in spring and harvesting in autumn, highlighting the Liangzhu civilization, a testament to the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization, and the beauty of harvest.
After the huge screen had alternated magnificent scenery cross China, a huge red streamer flied into the screen to pave the way for China’s national flag, which was escorted into the stadium by eight guards of honor in a steady march to the accompaniment of the melody I Love You, China. All stood up and sang the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China. The five-star red flag rose slowly and fluttered in the wind.
At 20:09, athletes began to enter. Accompanied by a brisk song Our Asia, delegations from 45 countries and regions marched into the stadium, receiving warm welcome from the audience. As the resounding rhythm of Ode to the Motherland rang, Team China, the host of the Games, entered the last. President Xi Jinping stood up and waved to the team amidst tides of cheers and applause. China sent a delegation of 1,329 members, including 886 athletes who will compete in 407 events of 38 disciplines.
Wang Hao, president of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC) and governor of Zhejiang Province, extended the warmest welcome to the athletes from Asian countries and regions on behalf of the HAGOC and 65 million Zhejiang residents. He hoped that the athletes would strive for excellence, realize their dreams, build stronger friendship, and find happiness during the Games.
Gao Zhidan, president of the HAGOC and President of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said in his speech that with enough care from and under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government, a spectacular Asian Games is ready to be unveiled. “Let’s honor the Olympic spirit, strive for new records of Asian sports, and write together a new chapter of an Asian community with a shared future,” he said.
In his speech, Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the OCA, extended his deepest gratitude to the Chinese government, the Chinese Olympic Committee, the Zhejiang provincial government, the Hangzhou city government, the HAGOC, and the people of Hangzhou. He said that Hangzhou had done a fantastic job in preparing for the Asian Games, and he was sure that everyone here at the 19th Asian Games would enjoy their time in Hangzhou City and Zhejiang Province and take home memories to last a lifetime.
The most exciting moment of the opening ceremony came at 21:16 when President Xi declared the Asian Games open. It was immediately followed by gorgeous display of digital fireworks as well as loud cheers and long-lasting applause of the audience.
Eight outstanding Chinese athletes and coaches entered the stadium holding the flag of the OCA. Then the flag was hoisted gently to the accompaniment of the OCA anthem, and flew high with the national flag of China.
On behalf of all the participating athletes and referees, respectively, athletes Zheng Siwei and Sun Yingsha, and referees Yang Zhongmin and Gao Jiaqi took the oath.
The lights gradually dimmed. A short video “Meeting in Hangzhou” displayed on the LED screen caught the attention of the audience. Traveling across the time, the emblem of the Hangzhou Asian Games was conveyed among people from different historical periods, extending a warm invitation to the world.
A cultural performance with the theme “Tides Surging in Asia” was unveiled thereafter. The performance was in three parts. In Part One “Elegant Charm of Chinese Style,” teenage performers dressed in traditional Chinese costumes danced over a Chinese landscape painting on the ground, actresses dressed in the style of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) stood elegantly, full of ingenuity. Cruising boats were passing one after another with the shadows of light scattering over them.
A holographic three-dimensional image of Gongchen Bridge, a landmark in Hangzhou, appeared vividly over the Grand Canal. All these demonstrated the meaningful scenario featuring the prosperity of Hangzhou and the charm of the south of the Yangtze River.
In Part Two “Tides of Qiantang,” hovering performers danced along with the tide, “tide battlers” on board sailboats sailed through the tides. The mascot “Jiangnanyi” or “Memories of Jiangnan” emerged from the water surface and jumped energetically, arousing the vigorous undulating waves. In Part Three “Leading the Way Hand in Hand”, performers dressed as white egrets danced in the sea of stars.
Amid the melodious singing and dulcet aria of Yueju Opera, several hundred university students held the gleaming osmanthus to light up a stretching river. Landmark architecture from countries and regions in Asia emerged on the huge screen, making up a picturesque Asian mosaic of distinctive charms. The wonderful performance touched the audience.
The cauldron-lighting ritual started at 21:53. The Asian Games flame, collected from the ruins of ancient Liangzhu city, had been relayed around different regions in Zhejiang before it eventually reached the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium.
Inside the stadium, six torchbearers Ye Shiwen, Fan Zhendong, Xu Mengtao, Shi Zhiyong, Li Lingwei and Wang Shun relayed the flame, winning applause from the audience. In the meantime, a digital torchbearer, transformed from over 100 million people who signed up online for digital torchbearers, appeared on the screen. It ran in the stadium, holding the torch up high. The primary cauldron tower “Qiantang River Tidal Bore” gradually opened up. Alongside the digital torchbearer, Wang Shun, the final torchbearer in the relay, ignited the “Qiantang River Tidal Bore”. The Asian Games flame was set ablaze.
“We have the same home that we love, no matter where we are. A few billion voices full of proud, we sing it clear and loud, we are all living in Asia…” The theme song The Love We Share of the Hangzhou Asian Games was sung, and the whole stadium was turned into a sea of joy.
The state leaders and international dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony include King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his wife Asma, Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda of Nepal, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao of Timor-Leste, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo of the Republic of Korea, Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat of Malaysia Johari bin Abdul and his wife Noraini, the Sultan of Brunei’s representative Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, the Emir of Qatar’s representative Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prince Faisal bin Hussein of Jordan, Princess Sirivannavari of Thailand and other royal representatives.
Wang Yi, Li Ganjie, He Lifeng, Wang Xiaohong and Shen Yiqin attended the opening ceremony.
John Lee, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Ho Iat Seng, chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, and Hung Hsiu-chu, former chairperson of the Chinese Kuomintang Party, were also present at the opening ceremony.
Officials from the OCA attended the opening ceremony as well.
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