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Asian Games 2018: President’s biker stunts kick off multi-sport event in style

The opening ceremony of the Asian Games 2018 was a mix of modern and traditional, the highlight of which saw Indonesia president Joko Widodo pull off some marvellous biker stunts.

other sports Updated: Aug 18, 2018 20:29 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times, Jakarta
Asian Games 2018,Asian Games 2018 opening ceremony,Asian Games
Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra bears the tricolour as he leads the Indian contingent at Gelora Bung Karno during the opening ceremony of Asian Games 2018, in Jakarta on Saturday, August 18, 2018. (PTI)

The Gelora Bung Karno Stadium truly throbbed with the ’Energy of Asia’ as thousands of artists, in a profusion of colours, gave a scintillating performance to signal the start of the 18th Asian Games here on Saturday. (OPENING CEREMONY HIGHLIGHTS)

For a moment, it felt like earth shook and from within emerged hundreds of shimmering lights. Those were in fact artists draped in gold and silver fabric. (INDIA’S SCHEDULE ON DAY 1)

For the next five minutes they held the 55,000-odd spectators spellbound, radiating an exuberance that will keep inspiring 9,000 athletes from 44 countries over the next fortnight. (FULL ASIAN GAMES 2018 COVERAGE)

The opening ceremony was a mix of modern and traditional as the giant screen first showed a biker, driving at breakneck speed and dressed in a business suit, enter the stadium tunnel.

Removing his helmet, he walked up to the elevator that took him right to the enclosure where dignitaries from a comity of nations welcomed him with open arms.

Those witnessing the ‘stunt’ were left in awe as from beneath the helmet emerged Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia, who started greeting the dignitaries with the warmth of a true Jakarta denizen.

In true traditional style, the ceremony began with each participating country being escorted by ceremonial girls dressed like a ‘Garuda’, which is the national emblem of the country and whose impressions and statues are found all over the city.

The event might not have been as colossal in scale as the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, where the venue for the opening ceremony was not a stadium, but a river.

But then that was China. And this is Indonesia, still coming to grips with the changing socio-economic environment around them.

The cheering spectators welcomed the 44 nations, reserving the maximum applause for the Unified Korea contingent.

The stadium reverberated with the sound of ’Korea, Korea’ as spectators, many in tears after witnessing the historic moment, let their unbridled emotion flow.

Afghanistan were the first entrants and athletes knew from the moment they entered the arena that they had millions of admirers in this country. His perfectly coiffed hair in place, Neeraj Chopra led the Indian contingent with the Tricolour firmly in his grip.

That grip will also be key to his — and India’s aspirations — of winning gold for the first time in the history of the Asian Games in javelin throw.

Over the next 14 days, multiple records will be set and many friendships forged, but it is the ’Energy of Asia’ (or shall we say Energy of Indonesia) that will be the driving force behind the successful conduct of an event of such magnitude.

Certainly, China will be up there on the medals table — they won a whopping 199 gold in 2010 and 151 in 2014 Incheon — but nobody stopped anyone from dreaming big. Maybe India too can start their golden Olympic dream from Jakarta.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 20:09 IST