The Hangzhou 2023 Asian Games kicked off at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 23 at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang Province, China, with the Opening Ceremony, marking the start of the 16-day event that runs through Oct. 8. The 19th edition of the Asian Games was held five years after the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games. Originally scheduled for last year, the Games were postponed for a year due to the pandemic. In the alphabetical order of the opening ceremony, South Korea entered the competition in 16th place, led by Koo Bon-gil (fencing) and Kim Seo-young (swimming). South Korea has sent 1140 athletes in 39 sports for the Games. This is the largest contingent ever. The team aimed to finish third overall, behind China and Japan. The Games mark North Korea's return to the international sports scene after a five-year absence.
The slogan of the Games is "Heart to Heart, @Future," meaning unity and communication among humanity. The theme of the opening ceremony, which marked the beginning of the competition, was "Tides Surging in Asia". It refers to the interaction between China, Asia, and the rest of the world. Showcasing Hangzhou's rich cultural history, the opening ceremony performance took Hangzhou's Qiantan River as its symbol. Known for its tidal surges, the ebb and flow of the river expressed the vitality of sports, the spirit of Zhejiang, where the Games are being held, and the development of the times. China's high-tech integration of the virtual and real worlds enriched the opening ceremony. The "digital fireworks" and "digital torch" emphasized green and cutting-edge.
Instead of fireworks soaring into the sky to signal the start of the Games, digital fireworks were displayed on screens at the opening ceremony. The appearance of the final torchbearer, shrouded in a veil, capped off the opening ceremony. Since June, more than 100 million people have reportedly participated in the relay by waving their smartphones. The torch was carried by women's swimmer Ye Jiwen, who won two gold medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games; men's table tennis world number one Fan Zhendong; women's freestyle skiing aerials winner Xu Mengtao of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games; weightlifter Su Zhiyong, who won back-to-back Olympic titles; former badminton world champion and IOC member Li Lingwei; and Tokyo 2022 Olympic swimming gold medalist Wang Xun.
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