INCHEON ASIAN GAMES CONCLUDES WITH SPECTACULAR CLOSING CEREMONY
INCHEON, Oct. 4: The third Asian Games to be hosted by South Korea
concluded with a spectacular closing ceremony at the Incheon Asiad Main
The Saturday night’s ceremony which brought the curtain down of the
17th edition of the 45-nation games was a treat to watch. The excitement
and creativity easily surpassed the standards of the two previous Asian
Games hosted by South Korea in Seoul 1986 and Busan 2002.
The three-hour colourful fiesta was a rich blend rich South Korean
culture and the modern technology, mainly focusing on the rich
traditions of Asia and the harmony among the Asians.
It was nice to cover my sixth successive Asian Games for the Sunday
Observer and Daily News, after following the fortunes of Sri Lanka and
Asian sporting starts in the last five Games in Hiroshima 1994, Bangkok
1998, Busan 2002, Doha 2006 and Guangzhou 2010.
From my first Asian Games coverage, I have been fortunate to follow
the dazzling moments of Sri Lanka sportsmen and women and report them
lively to millions of our readers. It was during my first Asian Games
coverage in Hiroshima, Japan in 1994 that sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe
won her first Asian level medal – a silver in women’s 200.
Her team mate Damayanthi Darsha won the bronze medal in the same
event, making it the
first occasion that two Lankans have won medals in the same event.
In my next Asian Games, I had the rare opportunity of witnessing Sri
Lanka winning an Asian Games gold medal after 24 years. Damayanthi
Darsha (women’s 200m and 400m) and Sugath Tillakaratne (w0men’s 400) won
gold medals for Sri Lanka at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.
The last time Sri Lanka won an Asian Games gold before the T20
cricket gold here in Incheon was in Busan 2002 when Damayanthi Darsha
won her second successive Asian Games gold medal in women’s 400m with a
new Games record. Darsha’s record stood until Incheon 2014 before it was
erased by Bahrain through an adopted Nigerian athlete.
The 17th Asian Games came to an end today after 16 days of tough
competition by participating athletes and friendships shared by billions
of sports fans on the continent but with familiar results: China placed
first, South Korea second and Japan third in the medal standings.
Under the slogan of ‘Diversity Shines Here’, more than 14,000
athletes and official staff from 45 countries have competed for 439 gold
medals in 36 sports. Fourteen new world records were established during
the game - in archery, shooting and weightlifting, with many fresh Asian
Games and continental records.
With all these hard-fought competitions coming to an end, the closing
ceremony started at 6 pm at Incheon Asiad Main Stadium to celebrate
athletes for their hard work as well as inspire them for future efforts.
The main theme of the ceremony was ‘Our Cherished Memories of Incheon’,
directed by Jang Jin, a South Korean filmmaker who also managed the
opening ceremony two weeks ago.
The grand fest began with fireworks woven with pop music and artistic
performances, including a taekwondo demonstration by members of Kukkiwon,
the global headquarters of the martial art. On the wide screens, video
footage showed the highlights of the continent’s biggest sporting event,
recapturing sports stars and their competitors’ excitement, joy, regret
Athletes entered the stadium freely, cheering and waving their hands
and flags. Looking relaxed and free from burden, they took selfies with
their colleagues and players from other countries. South Korean sprinter
Yeo Hosua carried the national flag to lead the delegation on the final
After the Organizing Committee for Incheon Asian Games Chairman Kim
Young-soo and Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad
Al-Sabah announced the closing of the Incheon Asiad, the official
organising flag was handed to the next host city: Jakarta, Indonesia.
“For the last 16 days, we have together enjoyed the festival of Asia
while exercising our full potentials in fair competitions by
representing each and every nation in Asia,” Kim Young-soo said in his
remarks. “During this journey, the eyes of the world have been upon us.
We have shared moments of joy, great happiness and tears of
disappointment; but more than anything, we have confirmed the fact that
we are one large family. Wishing for the 17th Asian Games to serve as a
starting point of a new Asia, we lit the flame of the games together and
now we have realized our dream,” he added.
OCA President Sheikh Ahmad said the athletes should use what they’ve
learned here to their best advantage. “The Asian Games are not only
They are about representing your country, trying your best and taking
pride in your flag,” he said. “They are about sportsmanship and fair
play and about friendship and team spirit. So I hope the memories and
the new friends you have made will last a lifetime and that Incheon 2014
will always be remembered as the starting point of a new chapter in your
Also in attendance at the ceremony were three high-ranking North
Korean officials - Hwang Pyong-so, Choe Ryong-hae and Kim Yang-gon.
Hwang, the director of the military’s General Political Bureau, is
largely viewed as the No. 2 man in the North. He is the highest North
Korean official to visit the South in recent years. Their visit was seen
in Seoul as an indication of Pyongyang’s desire to improve frosty
The Asian Games cauldron, which had lit the city for the last 16
days, finally was put out with a promise to meet again in Jakarta four
years later. South Korean boy band Big Bang had a mini-concert and
attracted an enthusiastic response from the athletes, wrapping up the
Tears came to everyone’s eyes as they felt the bitter feeling of
departing, but with new friendships, relationships and bonds they have
built in this western port city of South Korea. “See you in Jakarta,”
were the last words they exchanged.