Brilliantly executed, the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Asiad in Guangzhou was an exercise in innovation. Starting tomorrow, a record 9,704 athletes will vie for 3,989 medals, off 476 events
It was a pleasure watching the event with you. Come back again early tomorrow, at about 7:15, and join Swaroop Swaminathan as he idioms his way through Day One. Until next time, Adios from Anand Venkateswaran.
The Opening Ceremony has set the tone for the days to follow. Indian shooters will have to fire early on in the Games, with shooting Golds up for the taking tomorrow. There's a weightlifting Gold out there to be won too. Watch out for tennis, table tennis and hockey action.
20:05: And with that, the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Asian Games comes to a spectacular close. The ceremony set out to outdo the one at the Beijing Olympics, and succeeded.
20:00: As an inspirational song is sung, pyrotechnics light up the event, more colourful, more synchronised.
19:56: And the Asian Games 2010 Grail has been lit, by a series of fireworks! Innovation at its explosive best. The grail is burning bright.
19:54: A female recipient, Olympic table tennis Gold medallist Deng Ya Ping, runs with the flame
19:53: Passed on again to a famous Chinese yesteryear football player
19:52: The torch handed on to Chen Yi Ping, Olympic and Asian record holding gymnast.
19:50: The torch, first lit on the great wall of china, arrives, in the hands of a dragonboat athlete.
19:45: One athlete and one referee take oath on behalf of all their peers
19:42: As the audience rise, the Council flag is unfurled and raised. The Chinese Army Band plays the official anthem of the Council. The auditorium is hazy with smoke from the fireworks
19:41: And now, the entry of the flag of the Olympic Council of Asia, borne by eight Chinese athletes
19:40: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declares the 16th Asian Games open. Fireworks like you've never seen before. Some 30,000 fireworks set off. The 600-metre high TV tower is one big cracker.
A very interesting feature - catch the statistics related to the Opening Ceremony here.
19:33: The president of the Olympic Council of Asia makes his remarks now. He promised on behalf of the Olympic Council the respect and recognition the Asian Games deserves
19:31: The Asian Games Organising Committee extends its welcome now, to the largest ever edition of the Games
19:25: The athletes are being formally welcomed now. "May the athletes exceed their expectations and make records and history," the speaker says.
For a look at some of the images of the magnificent Opening Ceremony, click here.
19:22: Another view has just revealed that the colour-coded teams have all assembled in a very specific formation around the Asian Games grail. The shape is a mystery.
19:20: The crowd is on its feet, and applauding without reservation
19:18: And now, almost a 1,000 athletes to represent the People's Republic of China. Enormously successful, their Gold medal tally stands at 999. There are 476 Gold medals up for grabs, and China is in the running for 200 of them. This is going to be a long parade.
19:17: Yemen right behind them. Kuwaitis come in with a contingent of 222. They've got 25 shooters.
19:16: Uzbekistan, a very successful team in the Asian Games. Vietnam march in, they'll look to win medals in taekwando, wushu and Judo
19:15: The UAE, who have been competing since 1990, have 99 athletes
19:14: Timor-Leste. They haven't won a medal yet, but 33 athletes will hope to change that. Turkmenistan walk in with printed scarves
19:13: Thailand, sixth most successful nation. Major contenders in weight lifting, boxing and tae kwando. They've brought 599 athletes
19:11: Chinese Taipei, ranked 11th overall, walk in to loud cheering. Tajikistan have been competing since 1994 in Hiroshima.
19:10: Singapore, with over 200 athletes, will hunt medals. Sri Lanka, ranked 25th, followed by Syria.
19:09: Saudi Arabia, ranked 20, march in with 180 athletes
19:08: Philippines brings a large 230-strong contingent. Qatar, hosts of the Doha Asian Games.
19:07: Palestine, they're competing in a range of sports and will look to up their tally of one medal since 1990
19:06: Oman, and now Pakistanm, the 14th most successful teams. With India out of the way, they're the fafourites in cricket.
19:05: Nepal - never gold winners, but veterans nonetheless; they've competed in every edition of the Games.
19:04: Myanmar, who have competed in every one of the editions of the Games.
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19:03: Maldives now, who've been competing since 1990. Not medals yet, will look to make a start here. Mongolia enter, with 244 athletes
19:02: Malaysia - leaders in badminton, table tennis, shooting. The Indian contingent must be watching closely.
19:01: Lebanon, who are the 28th most successfull nation. The island of Macau, China draws applause next
19:00: Kyrgizstan come in with 143 athletes. Relative new-comers. And Lao PDR follows.
18:58: The Republic of Korea walk in now. They had great success in Doha. Huge contingent - 800 of them.
Let's follow Ananth Krishnan and take a short detour, into Guangzhou's affinity to water. Cantonese, the language unique to this region, is full of water-related phrases which reinforce this sea-faring spirit, as the city’s Water Museum (yes, it even has a water museum) tells us.
One popular phrase: “Boat bows hit each other, and then sterns touch” (translation: arguments between husbands and wives don’t last long).
And another you often hear from older residents: “Fish should be moved out of a pond.” (Translation: Leave home if you want to succeed).
18:52: Indonesia. And Iran, who have over 180 Gold in these Games so far. A formiddable team of 395, fourth in overall ranking.
18:50: India - the fifth most successful nation in the Games, all waving national flags. Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang, waving the flag, lead the contingent. Buoyed by the performance in Commonwealth Games, India will hope to make a mark here, perhaps repeat their 1982 performace, their best so far
18:49: Applause for Hong Kong, China. They're dressed in white.
18:48: Cambodia, well-established in the Asian Games. The Democratic Republic of Korea. One of the biggest medal-winners in all.
18:47: Bhutan, with only two teams - in boxing and Tae Kwando, totalling 11 sportsmen. Brunei, with an even smaller contingent of 9.
18:46: The participants walk in. Aghanistan, now Bahrain. Bangladesh, relative newcomers to the Games, walk in now.
18:44: And on the main stage, the water has disappeared! This stage, where we saw synchronised swimming, high diving, is now dry. The secret is hydraulics.
18:42: And as the song reaches crescendo, brilliantly synchronised fireworks. There's more. Women on water-skis hold giant sparklers aloft.
18:40: The arms of the basin have now become its feet, raising the basin to a level above the celebrations.
18:36: Showbiz takes centre stage. Pop singers belt out "Sunshine Again", a popular song, going by the crowd's response
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18:32: An aerial view, and it all becomes clear. A multitude has, on the surface of the river, formed the flame and star of the Asian Games logo. What seemed like colouful running around was a spectacular formation in progress. As a great man once said, your viewpoint determines your point of view!
More from Ananth Krishnan - If viewers are wondering why the emphasis on water in tonight’s spectacular show, Guangzhou is China’s “water city.” Canton, as it was once known, is one of China’s oldest port cities. Its identity as a port has come to define the city’s history – so much so that the people are also known for being among the most open and progressive in China given their long contact with the rest of the world. Hundreds of waterways run through the city, so water occupies a special space in urban life.
18:29: Another setting, damsels pour holy water into a basin, the basin rises, as it's arms, supported by many, converge, and are attached to it. A riot of colour, surrounding the basin, filling the massive stage
18:25: A ticker on the bottom right of the screen, as people across the city bring pots of plants to display, to show Guangzhou is a green city.
18:20: It's futile even trying to describe this. There are clouds on the screen, and huge birds gliding through them. The wings of the bird, it's tail, all made of men on strings. The birds become waves in mid glide. This performance comes to a close.
18:17: The performers are treated as dots that form a line, and moved accordingly, up and down, sideways. Smileys on all the screens - the eyes, nose and mouth made of men on strings. The synchronisation is uncanny. It seems impossible close up.
18:14: As the computers simulate terrain, performers on strings, 80 metres off the ground, dive, run, make formations, all on strings.
18:12: Jet-skis roar in, to new age music. They turn circles, dodge and pass each other on the water.
18:10: Synchronised swimming to match the chords of the piano. A diver dressed in green plunges into the Pearl River on cue. Forgive me for blowing a balloon, bu that was a bad dive - wrong angle, botched entry.
18:08: Actress Zhang ZiYi of "Couching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and "The House of Flying Daggers" fame, lends her voice to the song.
18:06: "The Sail of White Clouds", now played on piano, as two dancers float toward each other. More dancers gather on the river's surface. Virtuosity with wire, 250,000 metres of it used in this Opening Ceremony, according to an estimate.
18:05: A laser spiral on the tallest fountain ends this performance
18:03: The storm abates, 16 red sails ride around the ship, now lit up brilliantly by lanterns.
18:00: On shore, the women appeal for the safe return of the sailors, tossed about by the waves. lightning effects, stormclouds, high waves, all on the spectacular sails that double as independant screens
17:58: The sailors battle the waves valiantly, in vain, it seems, the waves are a whirlpool now, turning the ship round and round
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17:55: A dance ballet in progress, telling of a different era in the Orient. A stormy sea, a galleon tossed around by the waves. That's a huge ship swaying to tune in the water!
From Ananth Krishnan - A little bit of background on where this ceremony’s unfolding – it is, believe it or not, right in the heart of downtown Guangzhou, on the sprawling Haixinsha Square. I was lucky enough to visit the square on a recent trip to Guangzhou, and I have to say the aesthetics are stunning.
The ceremony takes place in a grand amphitheatre which sits right on the banks of the Pearl River. So the audience pretty much looks out across the river, towards the stunning 600 metre-Canton Tower which was built right in time for the Games.
17:50: The one star is now 180 stars, twirling, twinkiling, now converging on the water. The petals take their places among them, and unfurl.
17:49: The petals give way to 180 girls in neon green umbrella dresses, who form a pulsating star in the water
17:47: Brilliant chorepgraphy. Children, 100 of them, flow out of the flower with lanterns in their little hands. The children dance on the water.
17:45: 'Water of the Earth', the song now being performed. Petals of the Hero tree float into the water, becoming flowers to represent the participating countries. The flowers unfurl and close, unfurl and close. They all come together.
17:43: Brilliant effects, it looks like the leaf is held up by a fountain.
17:37: A children's song, "Heavy Rainfall" is played, to show how the cities emerged. A young boy seated on a shining leaf floats in, pours water into the river, raising 38 river goddesses who dance on the water.
17:37: The National Anthem is played. The Opening Ceremony begins
17:35: A crowd of over a 100,000 clap as the Chinese National flag is paraded. Amazing, there are actually volunteers to help keep the audience in rhythm
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17:33: LED monitors, biggest in the world, unfurl, with icons of the games to be played, and the Asian Games 2010 logo
17:32: The countdown for the Opening Ceremony begins, with pyrotechnics on the 600-metre tall TV tower.
17:30: Back to the Citizen's Plaza. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao enters, takes his place among the people, to watch the event unfold on 44 boats on the spectacular Pearl River.
17:28: And Guangzhou was battle-ready way ahead of D-Day. Click here to find out how they did it.
17:26: We’re hearing that Guangzhou even outspent Beijing for tonight’s festivities. And that’s no small feat. The costs are, needless to say, kept closely guarded, but a source in Guangzhou tells us the city spent somewhere near $ 200 million on the Opening Ceremony alone. That’s twice as much Beijing spent!
17: 22: Here's what Ananth Krishnan, our special correspondent from Beijing, tells us - All eyes are on Guangzhou. There’s some mild anxiety here as well – It’s fair to say most expect the Opening Ceremony tonight to surpass Beijing’s from the Olympics in 2008 in the spectacular stakes.
17: 19: The run-up to the Opening Ceremony has been nearly cinematic. Rehearsals that offered sneak peeks into the scale of the ceremony, and airtight secrets about the 'mystery lighting' and the 'lighting of the cauldron'
17:15: And here we are, at Guangzhou. Drifting away from tradition in style, the entire Opening Ceremony will take place outside the venue, on an island on the Pearl River, making water as well as land a part of the stage for this event
A very good evening to you all. Another grand sporting event, the sixteenth Asiad is set to begin today. Sports fans who have followed our coverage of the Commonwealth Games 2010, can continue to access the cream of sporting action from the Asian Games 2010 page.
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If the stellar Opening ceremony of the Olympics two years ago is anything to go by, then Guangzhou is about to tax my store of superlatives this evening. Here's a sneak peak.
The Commonwealth Games 2010 had its share of lesser known events like lawn Bowls. The 16th Asian Games has some surprises of its own this season, including a some new entrants. Xingqu for instance. It's a Chinese version of chess.
Wushu is another sport the average sports buff might not be up to scratch on. According to the official Asian Games website, Wushu includes long boxing, southern-style boxing, taiji boxing, short weapon play, long weapon play and sanshou, which made its Asian Games debut in 11th Asian Games, Beijing, in 1990.
Keywords: Asian Games 2010