The 2018 Asian Games kicked off on Saturday with a glittering opening ceremony that was filled with lighting, fireworks and proud athletes of 45 National Olympics Committee (NOC) contingents in front of a jam-packed Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo officially inaugurated Asia's biggest sporting event by riding a motorcycle while entering the venue and what followed was a ravishing ceremony showcasing the nation's traditional cultures.
“On behalf of the Indonesian people, we are proud and we are honored to welcome our special guests from 45 countries. With the 18th Asian Games, we, the nations of Asia, want to show [the world] that we are brothers, we are united and we want to reach our goals,” said President Widodo while addressing the enthusiastic crowd in the stadium and millions watching across the world.
Witnessed by a houseful crowd of 40,000 fans, the opening ceremony got off to a rousing ovation with 2,200 high school dancers from across the capital of Jakarta showcasing their traditional Saman dance.
Then came the thousands of athletes from 45 nations, who walked into the stadium amid huge ovations from the crowd. Each contingent was headed by a representative who wore a bird-shaped costume as they walked proudly representing their nations in front of a grandiose stage of 120 metre length, 30 metre width and 26 metre of height, resembling a mountain full of plants and flowers unique to Indonesia.
For India, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra was the flag bearer as he led an 804-member Indian contingent that included 574 athletes.
This is the second time that Indonesia is hosting the Asian Games having previously hosted the 1962 Games in Jakarta. However, this is the first time that Asian Games will be jointly hosted.
The grand event will see around 10,000 athletes from 45 contingents compete for the ultimate prize in as many as 58 games.