The historical journey of the flame for the Asian Para Games, an event that celebrates the indomitable spirit of disabled athletes across Asia, reached another significant milestone. Hangzhou, the vibrant city in Zhejiang Province, recently welcomed the flame for the impending Games. The flame’s journey began earlier in the day in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, the city that hosted the inaugural Asian Para Games in 2010.
The momentous flame lighting ceremony was held within the confines of the Guangzhou Sports Culture Museum. This very museum is a tribute to the 2010 Asian Para Games. The flame, a beacon of unity, determination, and the enduring legacy of the Asian Para Games, has been preserved here since the end of the 2010 Games.
The very origin of this flame traces back to the China Millennium Monument in Beijing, the host city for the 1990 Asian Games. It has been burning brightly for over 13 years, serving as a testament to the enduring spirit and unity of Asian athletes.
This flame’s journey from Guangzhou to Hangzhou not only resonates with the core values and objectives of the Asian Para Games but also underscores the timeless spirit of disabled athletes across Asia. Post the lighting ceremony, the flame began another historic journey. For the first time ever, the flame was transported using high-speed rail, aboard the G1302 train.
Du Zuofeng, an esteemed official from the torch relay department of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games organizing committee, shed light on the significance of this gesture. By choosing Guangzhou as the site for the lighting, Hangzhou signaled its dedication to hosting a cost-effective event. It was a practical choice that resulted in substantial financial savings. Du remarked to the media, “The fire for the 2023 Para Games was lit to encapsulate the spirit, the core purpose, and the continuation of the Asian Para Games flame.”
The torch relay is slated to commence on October 19, culminating in the grand opening ceremony of the Para Games on October 22.
China, with its rich legacy in the Asian Para Games, is set to field a strong delegation once again. Historically, the Chinese delegation has dominated the medal charts with 185 gold medals in Guangzhou in 2010, 174 in Incheon in 2014, and 172 in Jakarta in 2018. The Hangzhou delegation is impressive, with 723 members, including 439 athletes. Interestingly, 215 of these athletes will be making their debut appearance at the Asian Para Games. With an average age of 26.5 years, these athletes will compete in 22 sports, covering 397 events. Among them, the youngest is just 13 years old. China has traditionally showcased prowess in events such as athletics, swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, wheelchair fencing, badminton, cycling, and archery.
Post the Asian Games, Hangzhou has undertaken extensive infrastructural changes to make its public spaces more accessible for people with disabilities. Out of the 19 venues used for the Asian Games, 17 will be repurposed for the Para Games, ensuring a smooth transition and continuity in the spirit of the games.