The capital city of Indonesia presented a dazzling opening show pronouncing the 18th Asian Games, with red as the predominant colour in the extravaganza of song and dance. The Indian contingent was led by the Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra who is regarded as the brightest gold medal prospect among the 804 athletes representing the nation.
The loudest cheers were reserved for the contingent of hosts Indonesia. But the march past became spectacular when the two Koreas entered unified at the stadium. They repeated this unified representation once again after the Winter Olympics to deliver the message of world peace. The two Koreas will field a united team in three events – Light-weight Rowing, Dragon Boat Racing and Women’s 5×5 Basketball.
Much to the relief of Kuwait athletes, they were allowed to participate under their own flag after the International Olympic Committee lifted the suspension just 48 hrs before the commencement of the event.
The ceremony started with a video footage where Indonesian President Joko Widodo was seen taking a bike ride to avoid the infamous Jakarta traffic jam to reach the stadium in time. He appeared at the stadium, revealed his identity and was received by the crowd with a loud cheer. Almost 2,200 school children showcased the traditional ‘Saman’ dance, which has been listed by UNESCO in its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
“We are all here to celebrate diversity, we are all here to celebrate differences, we are all here to celebrate humanity, Organising Committee President Erick Thohir said in his speech. Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah then addressed the packed stadium and was delighted that his own country Kuwait participated under country’s flag. President Widodo then declared the Games Open.
The Asian Games torch relay begun on July 15 at Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi came to Jakarta after being carried through 53 cities across the country. Former Indonesia shuttler Susi Susanti lit the cauldron which marked the opening of the Games.