Guangzhou, China - 12 November 2010
The 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou was officially declared open an hour ago by the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Among those present were President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President,.
45 countries will compete in the 16th Games. The official figure of 9,704 athletes is 184 more than the 9,520 who competed in Doha, Qatar, four years ago, making the Guangzhou Games the biggest in history. Medals are offered in 42 sports events in the 16-day games.
Not willing to be outdone by the recent Delhi, the opening ceremony at the Haixinsha Square was a sight to behold. This is the first time a sports event is held outside the main stadium.
The event began with fireworks exploding from the entire length of the Guangzhou TV Tower - the tallest building in the city. Then spectators witnessed a parade of boats along the Pearl River, ferrying delegations from the 45 participating countries. As the athletes appeared, they were greeted by cheers from the spectators, which erupted when hosts China made their entrance.
China, which has topped the medals tally in the past seven Games is expected to do so again this year. South Korea aims to repeat its second-place finish in Doha in 2006. Another country hoping to make a better impact in Guangzhou is Japan, with the largest delegation.
The 2010 Asian Games will end on 27 November.