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What to expect at the Hangzhou Asian Games opening ceremony


A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

The opening ceremony of what is being touted as the grandest edition of the Asian Games is set to take place in Hangzhou on Saturday night. This spectacle has remained an indispensable aspect of every tournament since its inception in New Delhi back in 1951. It serves as a significant platform for the host nation to showcase its unique national identity on a global scale. 

True to custom, the Hangzhou Asian Games opening ceremony will encompass several pivotal components, namely the artistic program, the parade of athletes, and the ceremonial lighting of the flame. However, what will set this occasion apart is the extraordinary infusion of cutting-edge technology and cultural elements that will infuse the show. 

“We will transport the beauty of mountains and rivers directly onto the stage, using the mesmerizing combination of naked-eye 3D visual effects and virtual imagery,” said Sha Xiaolan, chief director for the opening ceremony of Hangzhou Asian Games, during a press briefing on Thursday.

“This will create a breathtaking spectacle where performers can walk within a painting and immerse themselves in a picturesque landscape.”

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

“The opening ceremony will also ingeniously intertwine the elements of musical theater and traditional Chinese Yue opera, seamlessly blending Eastern aesthetics with Western art,” added Sha. 

“Furthermore, a carefully curated selection of representative folk songs, dances, operas and intangible cultural heritage projects from 11 different cities in Zhejiang Province will be showcased as prelude performances, adding to the charm and excitement of the event.” 

In the grand spectacle of a major sporting event’s opening ceremony, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as the moment when the main torch is ignited. How will the torch be lit? And who will have the privilege of performing this prestigious task? These are questions that have been on everyone’s minds.

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

However, the Hangzhou Asian Games has deviated from the tradition of keeping the torch lighting method a secret until the ceremony itself. Instead, the director boldly unveiled the precise details of how the torch will be ignited, breaking the suspense and adding to the anticipation surrounding this highly anticipated event. 

“We have devised a captivating and fully immersive way to involve the masses in the torch lighting ceremony,” beamed Sha. “Millions of ‘digital torchbearers’ who have registered online will transform into shimmering ‘flames’ and glowing dots, converging upon the Qiantang River. 

“They will come together to form a striking ‘digital human’ figure. With torches in hand, this digital representation will race towards the sky above the stadium, joining forces with the ‘real-life torchbearer.’ Through a seamless blend of virtual and real worlds, they will collectively ignite the main torch tower, symbolizing the harmonious fusion of technology and reality.”

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

A scene from the final full dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, September 18, 2023. /CFP

Sha confirmed that over 100 million people have already joined the online digital torch lighting initiative. “By choosing to disclose the torch lighting method ahead of time, our intention is to extend an invitation to individuals from all over China, Asia, and even the world, encouraging them to participate in the process and promote a spirit of inclusivity that transcends borders,” he said. 

Sha revealed that another highlight of the opening ceremony will be a sensational display of smokeless fireworks.

“The show will incorporate pioneering technologies such as 3D animation and augmented reality to create a astonishing spectacle using electronic fireworks,” he said. “This innovative approach not only ensures a stunning visual experience but also promotes environmental sustainability by presenting a green and dazzling feast for all to enjoy.”



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