MUSCAT: A spectacular and dazzling opening ceremony formally opened the 19th Asian Games in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Saturday night.
Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the delayed 2022 Asian Games, which was attended by leaders of different nations. The Sultanate of Oman was represented by Basil Ahmed Al Rawas, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth at the ceremony that was attended by 80,000 in the packed stadium.
The Games will be China’s biggest sporting event in over a decade with around 12,000 athletes from 45 nations competing in 40 sports. After the Chinese flag was brought out, the first team out was Afghanistan, whose female athletes, based abroad due to restrictions, walked together with their male counterparts.
Oman’s contingent marched with a majority of the athletes in their traditional dishdashas and musar holding the national flags while the others in the tracksuits.
National hockey team captain Sami Awadh Said Al Laun was the flag bearer at the ceremony and led the Sultanate’s contingent at the dazzling ceremony.
In a spell-binding ceremony intended to burnish Hangzhou’s status as one of China’s centres of technology and creativity, dozens of balletic dancers hovered above a digitally-projected lake in the wake of a flotilla of sail-boards.
For Oman, which has 44 athletes taking part in seven different sports, the start of the Games has been on a positive side as both the teams in beach volleyball have advanced to the last 16 knockout rounds.
The pairs of Nouh Al Jalboobi and Mazin Al Hashimi qualified as the best second team in Pool H with two wins from three matches while the other duo of Ahmed Al Hosni and Haitham Al Shreiqi finished No.2 in Pool G.
They will play the knockout rounds on Sunday.
The national hockey team will begin their campaign against China on Sunday. They will then meet Malaysia before facing Thailand in the third pool game on Thursday. Oman will clash with Indonesia on September 30 before concluding their pool engagements against fancied South Korea on October 2.