As the curtain prepares to rise on the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, East China, the excitement is palpable. With foreign dignitaries, athletes, and media from around the world converging on the city, the ambiance is set for a remarkable opening ceremony on Saturday evening.
The significance of the Hangzhou Asian Games transcends sports. Observers point out that this event also serves as a platform for Asian countries to foster unity and dialogue. The blend of sport and diplomacy underscores the current aura of prosperity and stability radiating throughout Asia.
This year’s Asian Games is set to be a record-breaker, with around 12,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions participating. This makes it the most extensive Asian Games to date.
Chen Weiqiang, the official spokesperson for the Hangzhou Asian Games, shed light on the grandeur of the upcoming event. He highlighted that more than 10,000 journalists would be chronicling the proceedings. Chen also promised an impressive opening ceremony that encapsulates China’s cultural assimilation with Asia and the enduring camaraderie of its people.
On the diplomatic front, Chinese President Xi Jinping engaged with various global leaders in Hangzhou, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and top officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia. Xi expressed his gratitude and warm welcome to these leaders.
Sharing his thoughts, Xi conveyed China’s readiness and enthusiasm for the 19th Asian Games. He emphasized China’s commitment to advancing the Olympic spirit and fostering unity and goodwill among Asian countries. Additionally, President Xi is slated to grace the opening ceremony, host a gala, and engage in bilateral discussions with visiting leaders.
When quizzed about the Hangzhou Asian Games slogan, “Heart to Heart, @future”, Raja Randhir Singh, the Acting President of the Olympic Council of Asia, interpreted it as a universal call for peace, warmth, and optimism.
Extolling China’s preparations, Singh articulated that the Hangzhou Asian Games epitomizes the idea that “Asia is united, Asia is robust,” a sentiment poised to resonate globally.
Nepal’s Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, echoed this sentiment. He expressed his belief in the Asian Games as a catalyst for fostering unity among the Asian populace, emphasizing the importance of sustaining and amplifying Asian unity and prosperity.
The origins of the Asian Games trace back to 1951 in India. Wang Dazhao, a renowned sports commentator based in Beijing, articulated the historical relevance of the Games. Born post-WWII, the Games represented a beacon of hope for many Asian nations, previously subjugated and colonized, as they sought rejuvenation and self-determination. This ethos remains as pertinent today as it was then.
Some Western media critiques have portrayed the Games in Hangzhou as reflective of misplaced priorities, given the economic and social challenges China faced post-pandemic. However, analysts suggest that these views stem from a misunderstanding. Wang Dazhao clarified that funding for these Games was allocated post-2015, following the successful bid. He lauded China’s fiscal diligence in managing pandemic-related expenses while still adhering to the Games’ budget.
Interestingly, while China is a prominent player, it isn’t the most frequent host of the Asian Games. Thailand, South Korea, and Japan have been recurrent hosts, with Japan prepping for its 2026 stint.
Wang Dazhao emphasized China’s role in crafting a cohesive stage for Asian nations through these Games, underscoring its reliability and prowess.
Looking at the broader picture, analysts contend that the Asian Games in Hangzhou isn’t just China’s moment of glory but a symphony of Asian prosperity. With ASEAN being China’s leading trade partner for three years straight and key global platforms like the G20 and SCO Summits being hosted in Asia in 2023, the narrative is clear. The Asian Games is a precursor to the emerging ‘Asian Era’.
Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, encapsulated this sentiment. The Asian Games serves as a forum for Asian leaders to foster relationships, mutual understanding, and collaborative initiatives. Li views the ‘Asian Era’ as an embodiment of harmony, diversity, and collective growth.
In light of global shifts, from the Cold War’s aftermath in 1990 to the financial turbulence of 2010, 2023 emerges as another pivotal year. Amidst international contentions, China, through the Hangzhou Asian Games, champions collaboration, equality, and inclusive global coexistence.
In conclusion, China seeks a connected, globalized world, striving to narrow the chasms between nations and civilizations. By hosting events like the Asian Games, China aims to galvanize countries to collectively address global governance challenges, fostering a brighter, unified future.