Asian Games begins with spirited opening ceremony

Kyodo

The largest-ever Asian Games got under way on Friday night with the opening ceremony.

Directed by Chen Weiya, who was the assistant director of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the ceremony was held outside the main stadium for the first time in Asian Games history — in the Pearl River on the Haixinsha Island.

A record number of about 10,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions will participate in 476 gold medal events in 42 sports, compared to 26 sports at the London Olympics in 2012.

Cricket, dance sport, roller sports and chess, including weiqi and xiangqi, are newly added sports at the Asian Games, which will also feature those unique to the continent such as dragon boat, kabaddi and sepaktakraw.

The ceremony marks the climatic end of the torch relay that traveled 25 Chinese cities starting Beijing a month ago.

Guangzhou is the second Chinese city to host an Asian Games following Beijing in 1990.

China also hosted the 2010 Shanghai World Expo that ended on Oct. 31.