Jakarta: Indonesia welcomed whole of Asia and its 45 countries to the sporting carnival called Asian Games with a glittering Opening Ceremony somewhat set on the lines of Danny Boyle’s masterpiece of London Olympics opening, but it came nowhere close to that outstanding theme involving body double of The Queen and Daniel Craig and David Beckham in flesh and blood.
On a specially chosen Saturday, dated 18.8.18, a clip filmed on the body double of the Indonesian president Joko Widodo wherein he rides a superbike and speeds through Jakarta’s streets leaving everyone wondering who is behind the visor of the headgear. The clipping ends with a group of school children waiting to cross the road as the notorious Jakarta traffic speeds through, this superbike stops and the schools children are made to cross the road before the rider removes the visor to reveal his identity.
A roaring applause followed and Widodo appeared on the stage a a rousing welcome before he declared the Games open.
That will kick-start a frenetic fortnight of breathless sporting action featuring the best of the continent’s athletes. Some 13,000 athletes will compete in 40 sports and 67 disciplines in the biggest multi-sport extravaganza outside the Olympics.
“I hereby declare the 18th Asian Games 2018 open,” Widodo said to the 50,000-plus crowd at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. Indonesia had stepped in for Vietnam, which pulled out in 2014 because of financial concerns.
The Games, which conclude on September 2, are the first co-hosted by two cities with Palembang on the island of Sumatra acting as venue for some sports along with the capital Jakarta.
The ceremony was splashed with the pulsating rhythms of the nation, its gripping culture and its famously colourful outlook to life.
For a nation recovering from a devastating earthquake and a capital that is a target of terror attacks, Jakarta showed exactly what it wanted to prove through the opening ceremony: We are a big nation capable of hosting an international event. Every resource that it used and the time and talent invested was worth the effort as the ceremony held everyone spellbound.
The 45 minute formalities included the flame being brought into the stadium on its last journey. The flame was lit in New Delhi and travelled for a month through the southeast Asian archipelago before it arrived in Jakarta on Saturday.
Before being lit at the GBK stadium, the flame was kept at the Presidential Palace. The formalities were followed by the grand parade of athletes from 45 Asian nations into the stadium.
The 572-member Indian contingent was led in by ace Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.
The ‘Ceremony Show’ as it was described by the organisers followed the parade of athletes and then 75 minutes of pure magic unravelling on a ceremony stage.
The stage was the arena for 5000 performers who put on a show with a mythological theme, choreographed by the Indonesian legends Denny Malik and Eko Supriyanto. A towering mountain served as the background, accompanied flora unique to Indonesia.
The highlight was the lilting music put together by popular Indonesian singers Anggun, Raisa, Tulus, Edo Kondologit, Putri Ayu, Fatin, GAC and Kamasean.
Indonesia can take a bow. It last staged an Asian Games in 1962 when Sukarno wanted to showcase a nation that had just won freedom. Now 56 years later, the country has spent around $2 billion to hold the Asian Games to reaffirm its place among the world’s emerging modern