The Asian Games (ASIAD) 2018 was declared open by Indonesian President Joko Widodo late on August 18 during a colourful opening ceremony in Jakarta.
With the theme “Energy of Asia”, the organizers of ASIAD 2018 highlighted the strength of solidarity, sporting spirit, cultural diversity, heritage and inheritance of quintessence from all countries and territories participating in the continent’s biggest sport event.
The opening ceremony lasted for around three hours with the participation of 4,000 dancers, 20 singers and hundreds of musicians of Indonesia as well as celebrities from around the world, including 15-year-old pianist Joey Alexander and female singer of Indonesian origin Anggun Sasmi.
The ceremony opened with a skit showing President Widodo doing stunts on a motorbike in Jakarta’s streets before riding into the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, to roars from the crowd.
About 1,500 dancers in traditional dress then performed a tightly choreographed routine before Afghanistan led the athletes’ parade into the stadium.
There were huge cheers when the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), whose athletes together number about 1,000, marched in together wearing pristine white and blue uniforms.
President Widodo was then seen dancing in his seat as Indonesian singer Via Vallen took to the stage, before the stadium fell silent to honour the victims of the recent Lombok earthquake.
"You can feel proud of your home country Indonesia," said Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia, before President Widodo declared the Games open, an announcement which triggered a volley of fireworks.
It provided a vibrant start to the Games, whose build-up has been dogged by logistical headaches and security fears after Indonesia suffered its deadliest terror attack in a decade in May.
Indonesia has also been grappling with its latest earthquake disaster after strong tremors in Lombok, an island in the east of the vast archipelago, left more than 400 people dead.
About 18,000 athletes and officials from 45 Asian countries and territories will be at the ASIAD 2018, the organisers said, looking to make their mark across a range of sports from swimming to sepak takraw and bridge.
The Asian Games encompass nearly the full Olympic programme and are considered the pinnacle by many participating nations, for whom Olympic success often proves elusive.
Vietnam’s sports delegation to the ASIAD consists of 532 members, including 352 athletes. It aims to snatch at least three gold medals, with at least one in an Olympic sports category.
Right after the opening ceremony, a number of Vietnamese athletes in the sports of Taekwondo, Wushu, swimming, fencing and shooting, began competing at the Games.
At the previous Games, Vietnam pocketed one gold, 10 silver, and 25 bronze medals, ranking 21st in the overall medal tally.
The hosts Indonesia participated in the ASIAD 2018 with 951 athletes, the largest number at this year’s event.