By REY C. LACHICA
HANGZHOU, China –– With all its might and wealth, the host nation made a grand introduction in the sporting world by staging the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Almost 14 years since that landmark event, Beijing once again made history by holding the 2022 Winter Games, becoming the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games in a well-calculated move seen by many political, financial and even sports experts as the country’s own way to flex its global clout.
On Saturday, Sept. 23, it is this city’s time to shine as it stages the 19th edition of the Asian Games at the city’s Olympic Sports Center Stadium in what promises to be the biggest sporting spectacle in this part of the continent, perhaps more lavish than the first two times China hosted the event – Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.
The opening ceremony alone is something they have been bragging about all year long, enough to satisfy everybody – athletes, coaches, officials and fans as well – after the event was delayed for a year due to Covid pandemic.
“Prepare to be dazzled” screamed the headline of the main story of the Asiad Daily as the hosts have prepared long and hard enough to put together an opening rites that they said will wow the world.
With President Xi Jinping gracing the expected elaborate opening rites, Chinese fans, dignitaries and sports fans – around 50,000 of them – are going to fill every available space of the massive stadium.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is among the foreign leaders invited to the occasion that is envisioned to deliver many firsts what with nation’s capacity to achieve even a daunting task.
The creative team of the Hangzhou Games even boasted that the opening rites will provide a blueprint for the sustainable and digitally enhanced gala event.
Even if the weather won’t cooperate, the show, they said, will go on as scheduled with the sporting fans from around the world likely to stay home to watch the proceedings at the comfort of their homes.
For one, Sha Xiaolan, chief director and producer of the ceremony said that the breathtaking projections will depict the city’s past and present on the floor and background screens apart from showcasing a number of historical and cultural attractions.
Also worth waiting is the glass-free 3D animations of athletic action and the unique way of lighting of the cauldron by a virtual torchbearer.
In all, the ceremony according to the renown director, from the welcome show, traditional parade of delegations, protocols and the main artistic performance will last for about 115 minutes.
Reigning skateboarding champion Margielyn Didal and world No. 2 pole vaulter EJ Obiena are the country’s flagbearers.
Joining them in the parade are Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richard Bachmann and other sports officials, including Chief of Mission Richard Gomez.
And once again, they will be wearing a Barong Tagalog designed by world-class Filipino icon Francis Libiran.
Other Filipino athletes who have no scheduled games on Sunday will also join the parade where 10 iconic attractions at the city’s famous West Lake will be projected onto the oval-shaped floor screen.
That, will certainly allow athletes and the audience the thrill and joy of seeing the city magnificent sceneries.