By Light Blade
Olympic champion Wang Shun and a digital torchbearer jointly light the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, Sept. 23, 2023. (Photo/Xinhua)
Thanks to eight years of meticulous preparation, in this season of bountiful harvest, the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games are upon us, with the Flame of Asian Games, which denotes the unity of Asian nations, lit at the lotus-flower-shaped Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Center. The tides of the Qiantang River blend with cheers within and outside the arena, bearing witness to the commencement of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Since the inaugural Asian Games held in 1951, which marked the inception of the largest comprehensive sporting event in Asia, over 70 years have passed. If we trace back to its predecessor, the Far Eastern Championship Games, the Flame of the Asian Games has been passed down for 110 years.
From Beijing to Guangzhou and now to Hangzhou, spanning 33 years, China is hosting the Asian Games for the third time, providing a platform for people of different regions and diverse backgrounds to come together in peace and friendship. Along the shores of West Lake and the banks of the Qiantang River and the Grand Canal, the beautiful historical city of Hangzhou and guests from far and wide will jointly compose a harmonious symphony of "To Future, With Love," the official theme song of the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games.
In this edition of the Asian Games, all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia and over 12,000 athletes have signed up. Six delegations, including China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, India, and Hong Kong, China, have over 600 registered athletes each. Taking into account the technical officers, media correspondents and others, the total number of the participants exceeds 30,000, setting a new record in the history of the Asian Games.
The Hangzhou Asian Games also feature the most extensive range of events among all previous Asian Games. Of the 40 sports, 29 are also available in the Olympic Games, with the remaining 11, including dragon boat racing, soft tennis, kabaddi, jiu-jitsu, and kurash, representing sports characteristic of various Asian regions. Martial arts, chess, roller skating, skateboarding, and other sports popular in Asia have also been included. Emerging sports like breakdancing will make their official debut at the Asian Games.
Looking at the arrangements for the sports of the 2023 Asian Games, it is evident that this year’s edition of the Asian Games has broken free from the traditional pattern of strictly following Olympic event selections. It proudly showcases a richer Asian identity and has become a grand stage that covers the entire Asian region, spreading the essence of Asian traditional sports culture far and wide.
Furthermore, several events in this Asian Games, such as table tennis, diving, badminton, gymnastics, and weightlifting, boast a competitive level akin to the Olympics. A considerable number of Olympic and World Champions will deliver thrilling performances for the audience.
Acting President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Raja Randhir Singh, expressed his heartfelt admiration, saying, "Hangzhou has long been prepared to host the Asian Games. I believe we will witness the greatest Asian Games ever."
The millennia-old city of Hangzhou, the "Heavenly City" that Marco Polo once described as "the most beautiful and luxurious city in the world," will, over the next 16 days, radiate new charm through its rendezvous with the Asian Games events.