Saturday, 20 September 2014

Asian Games 2014

South Korean President Geun-hye declares ‘Dream of 4.5 billion people, One Asia’ festival open

‘Dream of 4.5 billion people’ and ‘Asia is one’ was the vibrant theme when the 17th Asian Games were declared open in a multi-coloured blaze of fireworks at the Incheon Main Stadium here on Friday evening. South Korean President Park Geun-hye declared the festival to be opened at a glittering, South Korean modernisation, culture and pop inspired ceremony as North Korean athletes received an unexpectedly warm welcome. Spectators exploded into an uproar as the North Korean athletes entered the stage. Though the athletes from the communist nation remained stiff, in contrast to the heated atmosphere, they managed to wear a shy smile on their faces as they paraded around the stadium.

"I declare the opening of the 17th Asian Games," Park said simply, after athletes from 45 countries dressed in colourful national garb, sharp suits and comfortable tracksuits had filed into purpose-built main stadium. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), told the athletes: "We are delighted to welcome you and are looking forward to seeing you compete and perform based on fair play and respect. You are the heart and soul of the Games." Gangnam Style performer Psy and pianist Lang Lang were among those to regale the jam-packed audience of 62,000. The ceremony took spectators through snapshots of Asian history, its rich culture, traditions and development

Earlier, the show started with schoolchildren from South Korea holding rings started first act of the evening, followed by a visual narrative on the creation of the universe. A ship sailed through the stadium telling the story of how the continent of Asia was created, then separated with a well choreographed routine performed by a dance troupe. In continuation, how the sea connected the continent with the rest of the world was depicted. South Korean culture, known as the ‘Korean Wave’ or Hallyu, has swept through Asia in recent years generating billions of dollars in revenue from drama and pop music and yesterday’s ceremony drew heavily on its influence. Korean sporting heroes also had their place in the spotlight, with golf major winners Pak Se-Ri and Park In-bee appearing with Olympic weightlifting champion Jang Mi-ran and speed skater Lee Kyou-Hyuk. A total of 13,000 athletes will take part in 439 events.

South Korean leader lets the Games begin
The flame for the 17th Asian Games is lit during the opening ceremony at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium September 19, 2014. – Reuters pic, September 20, 2014

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye opened the Incheon Asian Games at a glittering, K-Pop inspired ceremony Friday as North Korean athletes received an unexpectedly warm welcome. "I declare the opening of the 17th Asian Games," Park said simply, after athletes from 45 countries had filed into Incheon's purpose-built main stadium.

"Gangnam Style" singer Psy was set to close the spectacle, heralding the start of 15 days of competition with 9,500 athletes.

The ceremony's most touching moment came when the crowd bellowed their approval for the team from North Korea, with which South Korea technically remains at war
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Incheon offers an Asian treat
Fireworks light up the sky during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium

Opening ceremonies usually tell a story of the host country, showcasing some of its brightest pages, but Incheon chose to be different. It spoke about a continent, divided by oceans, where nearly two-thirds of the world’s population reside, and which should stay united and strong. It also hailed Asia’s bright future.

Incheon also showed its lively young face when it broke from tradition and had two little kids lighting the Games flame. Of course, it was carried all the way till the final step by some of Korea’s greatest athletes, including many world and Olympic champions.

The ceremony, which was attended among others by the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, South Korea President Park Geun-Hye, and Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmed Al Fahad Al Sabah, was simple, even the fireworks display was brief and went down much before the cameras at the packed 60,000-capacity stadium came up to catch it, but it was touching.

Diversity on show at Asian Games opening
Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The 17th Asian Games opened in a mulch-colored blaze of fireworks and carefully crafted K-Pop routines Friday, as athletes from the world’s most populous region came together in pursuit of gold and glory in South Korea.

An array of Olympians and regional sports stars will compete over 15 days of competition in Incheon where South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Olympic chief Thomas Bach were among the powerful figures watching a vivid opening ceremony.

Athletes dressed in colorful national garb, sharp suits and comfortable tracksuits waved to a crowd of 60,000, who offered enthusiastic welcomes to delegations from 45 countries including the South’s belligerent neighbor, North Korea.

Annyeong haseyo, Asia!
The Incheon Asiad opened with a bang as athletes from 45 nations, K-pop stars and celebrities came together for the opening ceremony at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium. PHOTO: SNOC

“Dae han min guk, dae han min guk” (which means the Republic of Korea), the war cry of 60,000 fans seated in the terraces of the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium, was hard to miss, summoning the straggling crowds milling about the plazas and waterways surrounding the newly completed complex.

Just outside, the ubiquitous selfie stick-wielding teenagers made the most of their Kodak moment — a first in 12 years for South Korea after the last Asiad in Busan in 2002 — posing for photos with their friends and athletes making their way to the opening ceremony of the Sept 19 to Oct 4 Games.

K-pop group EXO sounded the final call, as the 162-minute opening show finally kicked off at 7.20pm (Korea time) last night as the words “welcome” and “Incheon” flashed across the three giant LED screens around the stadium, while fireworks lit up the city’s night sky.


The 17th Asian Games will take place over 16 days in Incheon, Korea, from September 19 to October 4, 2014. It will be the third time Korea has hosted the OCA’s showpiece event, following Seoul in 1986 and Pusan in 2002. There will be approximately 20,000 participants, comprised of 13,000 athletes and team officials from the 45 NOCs, and 7,000 media.

The slogan is “Diversity Shines Here”.

Athletes will compete in 36 sports, including the 28 Olympic Games sports on the programme for Rio de Janeiro 2016. Organisers will use 49 competition venues, including 23 new stadiums, and 54 training venues, 49 of which already exist. The ground-breaking ceremony for the 60,000-capacity main stadium took place on June 28, 2011, and work is expected to be completed by April 2014.

Incheon Displays the Best of Asia to the World; Games Begin on a Grand High

The 17th edition of the Asian Games are now officially open. The Indian contingent has set a target of 70-75 medals and the participants will be boosted by their performances in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games.

With 36 disciplines, 45 countries, 49 venues, 439 gold medals at stake, the Asian Games kicked off with a grand opening ceremony at Incheon, South Korea. Catch all the highlights from the opening ceremony here.