The Asian Games in Hangzhou officially commenced on Saturday night as Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony of the multi-sport event at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.
The Games had initially been due to take place from September 10-25 last year but the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) postponed the event due to the “pandemic situation” in China at the time.
The Games will run until October 8, featuring 40 sports, 61 disciplines and 481 events. Some 56 venues will be used over the course of the Games, with 12 new facilities having been built specifically for the event.
One of these new venues is the Tonglu Equestrian Centre, which was designed by Populous in collaboration with Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co. Ltd. It is the only permanent venue in China that can host equestrian events and after the Games it will be divided into an equine sports precinct, commercial precinct, residential precinct, and arable land.
Organisers said the venues have been built with the concept ‘Green, Smart, Economical, Ethical’ in mind to meet the needs of the various sports. Venues are located in Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Shaoxing, Jinhua and other cities.
This is the third time that China has hosted the Asian Games, after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.
Saturday’s opening ceremony was attended by a capacity crowd of 80,000 at the lotus-shaped Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium (pictured), which was designed by NBBJ. The venue, which opened in 2018, is part of a wider complex that also includes a 10,000-seat tennis arena.
Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the OCA, said: “You have done a fantastic job in preparing for the Asian Games. The one-year postponement due to the pandemic was unprecedented in OCA history, but your diligence and determination will bear fruit over the next 16 days and you will be rewarded with the most.”
More than 12,000 athletes are expected to compete at the Games, with host nation China to be represented by 886 athletes across 38 sports.