JAKARTA: Indonesia presented an awe-inspiring musical show to dish out its multi-cultural and welcoming people on a rain-soaked Sunday evening as the island nation bid an emotional farewell to the 18th Asian Games at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium brining curtains down on the 15-day sporting extravaganza.
Having being hailed as a “historical success”, Jakarta presented itself to the world as a destination for 2032 Olympic Games and with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach present to witness the Closing Ceremony this vibrant Asian city certainly hoped to have struck the right nodes.
Heavy downpour just two hours before the ceremony failed to dampen the spirits of the Indonesians who thronged the venue in hordes that saw the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah declaring the Games closed after a march part of athletes-Indian tricolour being carried by women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal.
“Thank you Jakarta. Thank you Palembang. You did it,” Sheikh Ahmad said. “The sky is crying because we are very sad today as we must leave your beautiful country.
“We are going back with a lot of memories, wonderful memories from an amazing Games. We will never forget you, you will always be in our hearts.”
Like at the opening ceremony, a unified Korean team marched under a common flag, demonstrating the power of sports to forge camaraderie.
Later the baton of next host was handed over to Xu Li Yi, the Mayor of Hangzhou, which will host the next event in four years’ time in China.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Olympic champion swimmer Sun Yang extended an invitation on behalf of the organisers of the next Asiad.
Tha followed an hour-long musical show-a mix of songs from across Asia-Bollywood including, with popular numbers such as Koi Mil Gaya, Kuch kuch hota hai and Jai Ho sending the Indonesians on their feet dancing to the beats.
Indonesia no doubt surprised many critics by staging a spectacular Games withstood the nature’s onslaught on the last day as the packed stadium in unison defied the odds to hail their country’s success.
For the physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted athletes from 45 countries, Jakarta gave them an occasion to let their hair down and for a moment rejoice in having participated in the continent’s biggest, and the world’s second biggest, multi sports event.
While the opening of the Jakarta Games was on a colossal scale, a show of Indonesia’s rich cultural traditions, the closing function was all about Asia, a time to display the strong bonds of its member nations.
Everything about it was a reflection of peace, stability, togetherness and prosperity, emphasised particularly by the two Koreas unifying for the first time at an Asian Games. The theme of single Asian community! For Indonesia, a country that has recently been through difficult times, the Games gave it an opportunity to show it can overcome all obstacles to put up a good show.
If the Opening Ceremony wowed the audience for the richness of Indonesia’s heritage, the closing of the games was a modest in its scale but extravagant in its liveliness. It was celebrating sportspersons, an appreciation for their coming here and making the event such a huge success.
It highlighted the cultures of not just Indonesia but that of other Asian nations by featuring artistes from India, China and Korea. The focus was music. There was Sidharth Slathia from India, the much acclaimed Ikon and Super Junior from Korea besides Indonesia’s own talents like Isyana Saraswati, Dira Sugandi, RAN and Bunga Citra Lestari. They had the jam-packed stadium on fire with their music.
Before the musical jamboree started, the athletes came into the stadium to loud cheers. The loudest cheer besides the host country went to China and Japan, who finished first and second on the medals table. For India, Indonesia was a happy hunting ground and they will take back rich memories.
However, the most vociferous and loudest cheers came for the volunteers as the whole stadium rose to hail those unsung and unheralded young volunteers who tirelessly worked day and night for the success of the Games.
There is no doubt that these young volunteers were very crucial component in the smooth conduct of the games. Their behaviour and conduct was impeccable, which left lasting impression on the visitors.
The most poignant moment of course was when the Asian Games flame was extinguished bringing a hush in the stadium.