The 18th Asian Games got off to a glorious start
Published : 19 Aug 2018, 11:53
The Bangladesh athletes attend a marchpast session surrounded by the colours and festivity of the opening ceremony of the Asian Games at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta yesterday.
The 18th Asian Games got off to a glorious start in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta yesterday amid national pride, calls for international camaraderie and a bit of theatrics, with the country's president Joko Widodo at the centre of the action.
With the motto 'Energy of Asia', and a show of unity in diversity, the second biggest multisport event in the world got underway in front of a festive crowd at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium who were left to admire the authenticity and originality of the whole event, played before a verdant mountain and a full moon.
The show was dominated by the richness of Indonesian culture and geography, with a blend of their ancient and even mythical past, while the modern and the progressive forces that make this island nation what it is swept aside concerns about security and pollution.
The most exciting part of the show however, was the arrival of the president, which was as clever as it was intriguing, part visual, part surreal.
The 57-year-old president took a tour to the GBK stadium, but stopped his entourage midway through the procession. With armoured vehicles and security personnel in tow, it seemed that Widodo stepped out of the car and, in an almost Bollywood style, grabbed a racing bike and stormed through to the venue. While the action thus far was limited to only the giant screen, an actor in a president's attire, in person, did a round of the venue, still under a helmet, before disappearing into the dark, only to emerge through the gates of the VVIP box, to a huge acknowledgement from the crowd.
If that was a bit of political foreplay staged in front of his adoring people -- with a general election coming early next year -- there were more politically charged themes played out during the event, and it came in the form of the two Koreas marching together under a unification flag, again to a huge cheer from the crowd.
Two other prominent individuals, Indonesian business tycoon and chairman of the Games' organising committee Erick Thorir, and Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmed Al Sabah, delivered their speeches before Widodo declared the games open, and the celebrations began.
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