Hangzhou Asian Games 2023 officially kicks off with a futuristic ceremony

Blending elements of artificial intelligence and eco-friendly technology, the Hangzhou Asian Games began on Saturday with a unique opening ceremony headlined by a spectacular futuristic light show. The dazzling program, held amid a diplomatic row over the denial of entry to three Indian athletes from Arunachal Pradesh, was a blend of technology, China’s cultural history and the spirit of the continent’s unity.

In line with the main theme of ‘Tides Surging in Asia’, the ceremony was about the intermingling of China, Asia and the world in the new era, as well as the unity, love and friendship of the Asian people.

The water element through the surging tides of the Qiantang River – which flows through Hangzhou – was the underlying theme of the grand evening, which lasted nearly two hours.

The ceremony sought to portray a distinct Chinese and a unique Asian flair, capturing the country’s cultural heritage and romantic images through the blend of its thousands of years old civilization and modern technology through stunning images.

It depicted efforts on China’s road to modernization in a presentation that combined Eastern aesthetics and a point of view that connects with a global audience.

The technological power of China was written all over it when the lighting of the cauldron – the flame of the games – was done in a unique way.

Digital technology was used as torchbearers in the virtual and physical worlds jointly lit the cauldron.

Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the Games open as more than 12,000 athletes from 45 countries prepare to battle for top honors until October 8.

Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Acting President Randhir Singh, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chief Thomas Bach, heads of several countries, officials of National Olympic Committees and host of other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

The Games are being held late due to an increase in Covid cases in China last year.

In keeping with the concept of ‘Green Asian Games’ or CO2 neutral games, the opening ceremony used digital fireworks instead of real fireworks. It nevertheless created an exciting atmosphere.

The almost full 80,000 capacity ‘Big Lotus’ stadium was elegantly decked out for the occasion and welcomed the athletes from the participating countries including India with loud cheers.

After three wushu players from Arunachal Pradesh were denied visas by the Chinese government, India had canceled the visit of its Sports Minister Anurag Thakur. Indian Olympic Association President PT Usha was not present as she is currently in Paraguay as part of a parliamentary delegation, though other officials attended the ceremony.

Loud cheers greeted the nearly 100 Indian athletes and officials as they marched into the stadium, led by flag bearers Harmanpreet Singh and Lovlina Borgohain. The Indian contingent walked out to the athletes’ parade in eighth position.

From the tennis team, only Ramkumar Ramanathan participated in the parade as the other players have matches on Sunday.

The male athletes were dressed in bandhgala jacket and khaki kurta, while their female counterparts donned high neck blouse and khaki textured saree made from recycled fabrics.

India is fielding 655 athletes for the Games.

Initially, the theme ‘Water in Autumn Glow’ depicted water as the heart and soul of Hangzhou, where water comes in many forms – West Lake, Qiantang Tidal Bores, the thousand-year-old Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and the water conservation system in the archaeological ruin of Liangzhu City.

In an effort to use culture as a medium to blend the power of technology and the beauty of art inspired by traditional Chinese culture, the opening ceremony combined the flavor of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province’s images and elements unique to the country.

Through innovative modern technologies, the ceremony also showcased the allure, allure and uniqueness of Eastern aesthetics, as well as the profound influence of culture, the power of science and the comprehensive reach of art.

After approx. an hour long protocol part of the ceremony, a cultural program of 30 minutes captivated the audience. It was followed by the lighting of the cauldron and the playing of the official song.

By hosting the continent’s biggest multi-sport event, China has heralded its opening from the pandemic with a mammoth competition, the biggest ever in its history.

No doubt the Olympics are the biggest multi-sport event in the world, but more athletes compete in the Asian Games, with more than 12,000 taking part in Hangzhou.

About 11,000 took part in the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, and about 10,500 will do so in next year’s Paris Games.

The 2018 Asian Games had seen just over 11,000 athletes take part, which will be surpassed in Hangzhou.

Besides Hangzhou, the 19th edition of the continental showpiece will be held in five other cities – Huzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing, Jinhua and Wenzhou.

45 nations and territories in Asia will compete for 481 gold medals from 40 sports and 61 disciplines, including Esports, which will make its debut at the Games. Competitions in football, volleyball, cricket, rowing, sailing and modern pentathlon began before Saturday’s opening ceremony.

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