18th Asian Games commences in Jakarta

The footage, played out on the stadium''s giant screen, had Widodo grabbing hold of a motorbike to whiz past the stranded vehicles and take the narrow lanes to make the stadium in time.

GKNN
Jakarta, Publish Date: Aug 19 2018 12:29AM | Updated Date: Aug 19 2018 12:29AM
18th Asian Games commences in JakartaRepresentational Pic

A presidential dig at their traffic woes, a colourful display of their cultural heritage and a message for world peace -- Indonesia mixed it up all for a vibrant and slick opening ceremony for the 18th Asian Games here today.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was shown taking a motorcycle to the stadium after his convoy was stuck in one of Jakarta's infamous traffic jams.

The footage, played out on the stadium's giant screen, had Widodo grabbing hold of a motorbike to whiz past the stranded vehicles and take the narrow lanes to make the stadium in time.

A helmet-clad biker, presented to be the President, eventually appeared at the stadium before Widodo revealed himself at the dignitaries stands amid loud cheers from the crowd.

Raising the emotional quotient was the unified Korean delegation, repeating the touching images from the Winter Olympics, to once again deliver the message of world peace amid the recent diplomatic breakthroughs.

The two Koreas will field a united team in three events -- lightweight rowing, dragon boat racing and women's 5x5 basketball. The flag was a unity banner, a light blue representation of the Korean peninsula on a white background. It was first seen at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and also at the Asian Games staged in the South Korean city of Busan in 2002 and in Doha in 2006.

"We are all here to celebrate diversity, we are all here to celebrate differences, we are all here to celebrate humanity," Organising Committee President Erick Thohir said in his speech.

Young Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, the flag bearer, led the Indian contingent with players arriving in blue suits, smiling and with small flags in their hands, waving to the crowd.

Much to the relief of Kuwait athletes, they were allowed to participate in the athletes' parade under their own flag after International Olympic Committee lifted their suspension, just 48 hours ago. The government interference had forced IOC to suspend their NOC.

The loudest cheers, however, were reserved for the host nation, who arrived last, led by swimmer Gede Siman Sudartawa and basketball player Arki Wisnu.

Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah then addressed the packed stadium and was delighted that his own country Kuwait participated under country's flag. He also appreciated the harmony between the two Korean nations.

Widodo then declared the Games Open.

In Palembang, which will host shooting and tennis disciplines among others, the athletes watched the opening ceremony on a giant screen, installed at the main football arena. PTI

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