Hangzhou 2022 off to a razzmatazz start



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Hangzhou Games opened Image: Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, Siyuwj, CC BY-SA 4.0

The City of Hangzhou (China) and its gorgeous West Lake have inspired poets and painters throughout the centuries, and it is fitting that the ‘Romantic City’ is now headlining the sporting spectacle that is the Asian Games.

‘THE STRAITS TIMES’ stated that after a one-year delay owing to COVID-19, the Games officially opened on September 23rd with a grand show that wowed the crowd at the 80,000-seater Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.

The Asian Games, also known as Asiad, is a continental multisport event held every fourth year among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games.

The 2022 Asian Games, officially the 19th Asian Games also known as Hangzhou 2022, is a continental multisport event currently being held from September 23rd to October 8th, 2023 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Originally scheduled to take place from September 10th-25th, 2022, on May 6th, 2022 the Games were postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new dates were announced on July 19th, 2022. Hangzhou is the third Chinese City to host the Asian Games after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.

The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, commonly known as Big Lotus, is a stadium located in the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Center (multipurpose sports complex). It was completed in 2018 and it is used mostly for soccer matches. The stadium was designed with a capacity to hold 80,000 spectators.

‘THE STRAITS TIMES’ further stated that this has been the year of China’s reopening in the wake of the pandemic, after the 2022 Winter Olympic Games were held in Beijing with limited spectators.

The 2022 Winter Olympics, officially called the XXIV Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as Beijing 2022, was an international Winter multisport event held from February 4th-20th, 2022 in Beijing, China, and surrounding areas with competition in selected events beginning February 2nd, 2022.

With its theme, Tides Surging in Asia, a nod to the City’s natural landscapes and changing times, the two-hour ceremony mixed cutting-edge technology such as 3D animation and augmented reality (AR) with cultural elements that showcased the country’s rich cultural heritage.

The opening ceremony began with a water show set against a backdrop of 19 drums resembling water jade congs, an artefact from the archeological ruins of the ancient Liangzhu City.

With the event coinciding with the Autumn Equinox, which in Chinese culture is a time to celebrate harvest, the performance symbolized China’s role as host to some 12,500 athletes from 45 countries and territories.

Armed with China flags and clappers, the crowd were vocal in their support for the teams who marched out during the athletes’ parade, with the loudest cheers reserved for the Chinese contingent, who will be looking to continue their dominance at the quadrennial Asian Games.

Having topped the medal table for the past 10 editions, China’s contingent of 886 athletes – including 36 Olympic champions like swimmer Zhang Yufei – will be gunning for honors on home soil.

Other stars include table tennis World No. 1 Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng, and top-ranked female golfer Yin Ruoning.

The competition will also feature some of the region’s best athletes across 40 sports, including India’s world champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and Thailand’s badminton world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

New sports such as breakdancing, which will be making its debut at the Paris Olympics, will also feature. E-sports have also been added as a medal event for the first time – it was a demonstration event at the 2018 Jakarta Games.

The 2024 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Paris 2024, is a forthcoming international multisport event that is scheduled to take place from July 26th-August 11th, 2024 with Paris (France) as its main Host City and 16 Cities spread across metropolitan France and one in Tahiti – an island within the French overseas country and overseas collectivity of French Polynesia – as a subsite.

Singapore is represented by its largest-ever contingent of 431 athletes, and 91 were present at the opening ceremony on September 23rd. With the Singapore National Olympic Council Acting President Jessie Phua cheering them on in the stands, they were led by flagbearers Jowen Lim (wushu) and Amita Berthier (fencing).

Berthier, 22, said, “The opening ceremony was simply enthralling. Marching together with my fellow Team Singapore athletes felt amazing.”

Lim, 24, added, “Being the flagbearer is one of the best experiences I’ve had as an athlete… It has been a great start to the Games in Hangzhou and I’m hoping I can do Singapore proud.”

The Games were then declared open by the President of China Xi Jinping.

In keeping with its slogan Heart to Heart, @Future, which reflects the ability of the virtual world to connect people, the ceremony featured a digital torch-lighting ceremony.

This segment of the show involved millions of people online who were represented by digital flames and glowing dots that transformed into a digital human figure on the Qiantang River.

It then joined forces with the Olympic swimming champion Wang Shun, the last of China’s six torchbearers in the stadium, to light the cauldron.

Instead of the usual pyrotechnics, the show closed with a digital light show as organizers have pledged to make these Games the first carbon-neutral Asiad.

Hello Hangzhou, and let the Games begin!

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