The 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou came to an end amidst a spectacular show of fireworks. However, at the end of it, one was left wondering whether the choice of the Closing Ceremony, the Haixinsha Island, was indeed such a great idea.
For sheer spectacle to have a stage set up in the middle of the river, Haixinsha Island, was indeed a modern marvel. It proved to be a perfect venue for the Opening Ceremony where the focus is only on the performers, but one doubts whether it solved all the purpose of staging a Closing night of the Games.
There’s a major difference between the Opening and Closing Ceremonies; the latter is also a stage for the participants to join the party. It’s a night they look forward too. The night they remember and cherish.
After all the hard work, successes and heartbreaks during the event, it is the athletes’ time to let it all go. It’s their night to let the hair down and party.
Sadly, the athletes at the 16th Asian Games lost out on their opportunity to celebrate due to the limited space on the Haixinsha Island. With the water a few metres away, the volunteers struggled to keep the athletes within the designated area as they jostled for space with their spirits beckoning them to break free.
For all its organisational mess-ups, in the athletes’ minds, the Commonwealth Games’ closing ceremony takes the cake for the sheer joy they had in Delhi as they went berserk dancing, jumping or simply laughing.
As they say, some things are better done with your heart.
But for the athletes, the rest sure enjoyed the fine show put up by the organisers on Saturday night. The Guangzhou City Centre, with its high rises decorated in dazzling lights, provided a beautiful backdrop for the stage created in the middle of Pearl River.
The show started with the creation of a fairytale-like atmosphere with the change in colour patterns and flowing figures.
At most Closing Ceremonies, the hosts take the opportunity to showcase their own culture, but at Guangzhou, in keeping with its theme of Harmonious Asia, the organising committee chose to display the various cultures of different nations of the continent.
The Indian performance was right at the start with singers Tanya Gupta and Ravi Tripathi singing the 1998-hit song Saajan ji Ghar Aaye from the Bollywood movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Young local boys in kurta-pyjama and girls in ghagra-choli carried out a masterful dance sequence on the Hindi song. On the LED screens appeared river Ganges running through the temples in India and there were short films on the country’s famous monuments such as Taj Mahal and some modern architecture.
Among other performances, Indonesia’s and Kazakhstan’s stood out as the colour, precision and lighting was beautifully orchestrated.
In the athletes’ parade, it was a poignant moment to see boxing hero Vijender Singh doing the duty of the flag bearer with his left-hand in plaster. The Asian Games in Guangzhou would go down in history as ‘one of the best ever’, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah said as he declared the Games closed.
The Games were unprecedented in both size and scale in the 59-year history of the quadrennial event. More than 10,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions participated in a record 42 sports ranging from archery to chess.