Published: 20:08, September 23, 2023 | Updated: 23:14, September 23, 2023
President Xi declares Hangzhou Asian Games open
By Xinhua

This photo shows the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, in eastern Zhejiang province of China, Sept 23, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

HANGZHOU – Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday night declared the 19th Asian Games open in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang province.

The opening ceremony consisted of 15 segments, which include the parade of athletes and the lighting of the cauldron.

IN PICTURES: Dazzling show heralds Asiad opening

The opening day of the Hangzhou Asian Games, which will run through Oct 8, aligns with the Autumn Equinox, one of China's 24 solar terms. It symbolizes harvest and reunion in the Chinese culture.

Chinese President Xi Jinping waves, as his wife Peng Liyuan smiles, during the opening ceremony. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Participating delegations of the Hangzhou Asian Games entered the stadium at the opening ceremony. Athletes enter in the alphabetic order of NOC names.

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Each delegation was led by a placard bearer, whose dresses are inspired by Osmanthus, the city flower of Hangzhou, sending out a message of friendship and good fortune to all participating athletes.

Hong Kong athletes enter into the Opening Ceremony of the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Hangzhou on Sep 23, 2023. (ANDY CHONG/ CHINA DAILY)

Led by flag bearers Salom Yiu and Juanita Mok, the Hong Kong’s delegation entered the stadium amid cheers.

The national flag of the People's Republic of China is seen at the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games opening ceremony in Hangzhou on Sept 23, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The Chinese delegation, coming in last as the host country, entered the stadium with swimming world champion Qin Haiyang and women's basketball team captain Yang Liwei as the flag-bearers.

China has announced a delegation of 1,329 members, including 886 athletes, who will compete in 407 events of 38 sports at the Hangzhou Asiad.

Swimming Olympic champion Wang Shun and a digital torchbearer jointly lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games, Sept 23, 2023. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

Cauldron lit

Swimming Olympic champion Wang Shun and a digital torchbearer jointly lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Having been relayed through 11 cities in Zhejiang Province since Sept 8, the flame returned to Hangzhou on Sept 20 for one-day relay before its arrival at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium Saturday night. 

Wang was one of the six athletes making the final relay in the stadium, the other five are swimming Olympic champion Ye Shiwen, table tennis Olympic champion Fan Zhendong, Beijing Winter Olympic freestyle skiing champion Xu Mengtao, weightlifting Olympic champion Shi Zhiyong, and former badminton world champion Li Lingwei.

IN PICTURES: Parade of athletes

Digital torchbearers are involved in the lighting of the cauldron at the Hangzhou Asian Games, the first of its kind in sport. The torch relay on the digital platform has attracted over 100 million people to participate. 

‘Fantastic job’ 

Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), hailed the efforts of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee in preparing for the continental sports gala during his speech at the opening ceremony.

"You have done a fantastic job in preparing for the Asian Games. The one-year postponement due to the pandemic was unprecedented in OCA history, but your diligence and determination will bear fruit over the next 16 days and you will be rewarded with the most magnificent and successful Asian Games ever," Singh said.