On Friday as one woke up, bleary-eyed after watching the Qataris partying till late past midnight, reality dawned and a sense of vacuum pervaded everywhere. With Friday being the official holiday here, the feeling was heightened by empty roads, closed shops and eateries and, of course, the Corniche (the hub), which looked dull as ever despite the colourful and appealing skyscrapers dotting the skyline.
With most of the athletes having left the Games Village and many more scheduled to leave in the next couple of days after the tiring fortnight, it seemed, no one — not even the volunteers — were perked up for the closing ceremony.
But all that changed in the evening as, just before the closing ceremony, Qatar, riding on a Mohammed Bilal Rajab goal, defeated Iraq in a thrilling football final. Celebrations ensued and the Qataris partied as if there would be no tomorrow.
As the curtains came down in the evening with all the glam and glitz in ample measure at the Khalifa stadium and the city decked up to look like a dream-land, it was hard not to get sucked into the whirlpool of uneasy feelings that come with the closing of a mega-event.
Another Asian Games concluded and the countdown for the next began under the floodlit stadium. Qatar has shown the world that it has become the sporting capital of the world with stadia of such impeccable quality.
The closing ceremony encapsulated the imaginative, hilarious and a charmed world full of life, wisdom, morals and enchantments from the most famous secular Arabic literary work, “A Thousand and One Nights”. It showcased the charming and legendary world full of beautiful stories, enjoyable fables and strange adventures.
After a brief speech by the chairman of the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the brass players from the Qatari Armed Forces played the inspirational tunes even as the Olympic Council of Asia Flag was lowered and handed over to the next Games host — Guangzhou.