If exhibiting China’s might as the leading technology-powered nation was the message from the opening ceremony, the theme of the Hangzhou Asian Games closing ceremony was about celebrating solidarity within the continent.
The 19 th Asian Games – postponed from 2022 after the COVID-19 outbreak in China — officially came to a close on Sunday after two weeks of thrilling sporting action. China, who won the first gold, finished top of the table with 201 gold medals and a combined total of 383, a Games record.
The roads were cordoned off and the subway lines heading towards the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium were closed as the Premier of China, Li Qiang, marked his presence at the event, where there were plenty of empty seats at the nearly 80,000-capacity venue.
Qiang, alongside the acting Olympic Council of Asia president, Raja Randhir Singh, spoke of his appreciation towards Hangzhou in delivering a ‘distinctly Chinese Asian Games’.
“You have been the perfect host and OCA will never forget this. The power of sport and Asian Games is to unite us all,” said Randhir.
In the delegation, the hundreds of athletes from the 45 countries, who completed their engagements over the last few days, simultaneously congregated out onto the field. The Indian delegation was led by flagbearer PR Sreejesh, who helped India to hockey gold and secured a Paris 2024 Olympic quota.
“It’s a tremendous honour and privilege to represent my country as the flag bearer at the closing ceremony. The success of our Indian contingent, especially the Indian Men’s Hockey Team, has been an incredible journey filled with hard work and dedication. This moment signifies the unity and strength of our nation in the world of sports,” said Sreejesh.
India, which enjoyed its best-ever Asian Games campaign with a record 107 medals, soaked in the celebratory atmosphere and indulged in selfies.
The 90-minute long ceremony displayed the bond which Hangzhou’s vibrant nature shares with Asia as LED giant sprouting osmanthuses lit up the arena, a video package of the best moments showcasing the sportsmanship of the Games, and the enduring memories of the host city.
Randhir officially closed the Games before Hangzhou, which follows the Chinese tradition of plucking a flower and passing it on to its departing friend, passed the Games over to Aichi-Nagayo of Japan, the next hosts in 2026. And with that, the cauldron was extinguished by the digital torchbearer before running into the night skies to become one with the stars.