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Asian Games kicks off with dazzling opening

Published : 23 Sep 2023 09:41 PM

Delayed by a year due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the 19th edition of the Asian Games officially began on Saturday in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou with a scintillating two-hour opening ceremony.

Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the Asian Games open at a sparkling ceremony. The opening ceremony kicked off with an artistic program with Chinese President Xi Jinping also among the important guests. A glittery opening ceremony marked the commencement of the continental showdown, which is being held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, also known as the Big Lotus. This venue, which was initially designed as a football arena back in 2018, can accommodate up to 80,000 spectators.

A total of 12 Bangladeshi players are set to begin their Asian Games 2023 campaign in singles as they will take part in six disciplines, including respective individual and team events, in Hangzhou, China Sunday.

The six sports are shooting, boxing, chess, swimming, gymnastics and taekwondo while cricket, football and hockey players will also take the pitch in their respective team fixtures.

Bangladesh never managed a medal from the aforesaid individual disciplines with the exclusion of a bronze in boxing, and that too a long time ago through the hands of boxer Mosharraf Hossain in men’s light heavyweight group at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.

The hosts are overwhelming favourites to top the medals table, boosting a huge nearly 900-strong delegation, with Japan and South Korea battling for second.

Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain and men's hockey captain Harmanpreet Singh led the Indian contingent. India have fielded a strong 655-member contingent. Meanwhile, apart from her heroics in Tokyo, Lovlina is the reigning world champion in her weight category. She had secured a gold at the World Championship, which was held earlier this year in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Harmapreet is India's best drag-flicker and will hope to lead his side to an Asiad gold, which will ensure them a quota at the upcoming Paris Olympics. 

North Korea has sent a nearly 200-strong team, ending nearly three years of isolation from the global sporting arena.

They will fight for medals in 40 sports from athletics, swimming and football to bridge, along with a host of regional specialities including dragon boat racing, Chinese martial art wushu and kabaddi, a popular contact sport on the Indian subcontinent.

Nine sports, among them boxing, break dancing and tennis, will serve as Asia qualifiers for next year's Paris Olympics.