Eight years in the making, Hangzhou Asiad to launch in style
HANGZHOU -- Hangzhou is ready.
Eight years of meticulous efforts in preparing for the 19th Asian Games will culminate with a grand opening ceremony at the lotus-shaped Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium on Saturday.
Over the past eight years since the capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province was declared the host of the Asiad, it has upheld the principles of "streamlined, secure, spectacular," and dedicated itself to high-quality preparations.
This aerial photo taken on June 28, 2023 shows the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. [Xinhua/Huang Zongzhi]
On April 9, 2016, the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) was established. Since then, it has been working on all fronts, including the venues, logistics, competitions and the promotion of the Asiad.
The event was postponed due to the impacts of the pandemic. "However, we still manage to unite as one, overcome the difficulties and ultimately persist with our work right up to this point," said Chen Weiqiang, executive secretary general of the HAGOC.
With all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia sending over 12,000 athletes to the games, the Hangzhou Asiad is already the Asiad with the most participants, most sports, and largest overall scale.
As the cornerstone of the games, the venues stood out. The construction began in October 2017 and concluded in March 2022, when all 56 sporting venues passed the examinations for their competition functions.
This photo taken on April 12, 2021 shows a view of Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Aquatic Sports Arena, a venue of the 19th Asian Games, in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. [Xinhua/Jiang Han]
In late July, a long series of test competitions for the venues concluded. They received extensive praise from various international sports organizations and athletes. In the next few weeks, they will be home to 481 Asiad events.
The Hangzhou Asian Games Village is a delight for the participants. "The facilities and services that we enjoy here in the Village are far beyond my imagination," said Zhu Yaming, a veteran triple jump athlete with abundant experience in international competitions.
Vinod Kumar Tiwari, acting director general of the Olympic Council of Asia, expressed his confidence in the success of the Hangzhou Asiad with the high-quality support from the Village.
He was amazed at the innovative concepts adopted in running the Village. Here, cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence have been utilized in various areas.
Ilario Corna, chief information technology officer of the International Olympic Committee, said that the Asiad will provide a window through which the world can learn more about Hangzhou, a city empowered by digital technologies.
Hangzhou is not only ready to present an impressive sporting feast, but has taken the Asian Games as an opportunity to transform the city itself and the lifestyles of its 12 million citizens.
Journalists experience an AR bus at the Hangzhou Asian Games Village in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, Sept. 12, 2023. [Xinhua/Weng Xinyang]
Aiming to host a carbon-neutral Asian Games, Hangzhou has rolled out an action plan for making the Games waste-free, as well as many other measures to make the event friendly to the environment.
In order to promote the concept of environmental responsibility, digital fireworks will be used at the opening ceremony instead of physical ones, according to ceremony director Sha Xiaolan.
"Hosting the Asian Games is an important opportunity to unite society and advocate for a green lifestyle," said Gao Xiang, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of Zhejiang University of Technology.
It is not just the fireworks that are going digital. At some of the game venues, smart robots will be deployed for multiple purposes, including venue guidance and security, with the aim of enhancing efficiency.
Tickets for the Asian Games are currently selling fast, a sign that citizens are keen on the Games and their enthusiasm for sports has been aroused.