Guangzhou echoes ‘Thrilling Games, Harmonius Asia’By IANS
Friday, November 12, 2010
GUANGZHOU - The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou echoed “Thrilling Games, Harmonious Asia” as the 16th Asian Games kicked-off here Friday with a spectacular opening ceremony that was taken out of the main stadium to a riverfront for the first time in the history of the Games.
Key features of the opening ceremony, held at a special arena on the banks of Pearl River, were the ceremony of converging water and an act that depicted the invitation to the athletes of Asia from the ‘City of Flowers’, which is what Guangzhou means.
With an innovative opening ceremony, China left the world
spellbound, as it did two years ago during the inauguration of the Bejing Olympic Games.
Drummers repeatedly built up a crescendo during the three-hour ceremony that depicted the tradition and culture of the province, which is located next to the Chinese region of Hong Kong.
With the largest gathering of athletes ever in the multiple-sport continental Games, the Asian Games have grown enormously to become the second biggest after the all-encompassing Olympics.
The invitation to athletes from this ‘City of Flowers’ came through a ceremony that featured exciting drumming and a synchronous short video play on the sail-shaped screens. In the backdrop, four famous performers sang the theme song “Sun Rises From the East.”
The performers danced with great enthusiasm as stunt performers exhibited their skills in the river outside the venue. More than 500 pace-setters, all students and volunteers, entered the guest-greeting avenue, running while blowing the fisherman’s whistle and waving their hands to the audience. The were followed by 126 guards of honour, who held knife-shaped flags.
A ship aptly dubbed “Harmony” set sail to mark the start of the Asian Games, following the march-past of athletes where the Indian contingent marched into the arena after Hong Kong, followed by the Indonesian delegation.
This is the biggest contingent fielded in the Asian Games history. Three decades after the Beijing Asian Games in 1990 underscored China’s rapid strides in the sporting arena, the Guangzhou Games feature 42 sports disciplines - the most since the Asian Games were first staged in New Delhi in 1951.
The opening ceremony was unique in that it was staged at a venue outside the main sports stadium, and not like it is usually done at the venue of the athletics competition.
A boat parade along the Pearl river rhymed to the tunes of the “Happy song all the way along the river” set off the opening ceremony along the Pearl River that cuts through the city of Guangzhou, which was earlier know as Canton.
The ritual of setting the sails took place at the Fangcun Music Square in a ceremony loaded with local rituals, while elements such as the folk dance and drum music were used to present its unique characteristics. Ten brass player took positions in each ship that set sail.
Cultural performances with unique local flavour were held along both banks of the Pearl River, which takes its name from a stone isle.
Elements such as the folk dance and the lion dance were used is the ceremony that underscored the natural scenery of the region. The Asian Philharmoic Orchestra performed in the segment dubbed “The Ship in the Ocean.”
Drum beating with Guangzhou characteristics reached its peak before the ‘Five Goats’ mascot was invited into the to start the ceremony amid joyful folk songs.
The Opening Ceremony marked the realisation of a seven-year long dream that began with Guangzhou making the bid for the Asian Games in December 2003. The rights to the 2010 Games were officialy awarded to Guangzhou by the Olympic Council of Asia on July 1, 2004.