Torch relay starts final leg as Hangzhou prepares to raise curtain on Asian Games
The torch relay for the Asian Games began its concluding stage in Hangzhou on Wednesday morning, marking the commencement of the final countdown towards the much-anticipated inauguration of this grand event.
Torch bearer Guo Jingjing passes the flame during the torch relay of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, Sept. 20, 2023. (Xinhua/Xu Yu)
Scheduled to lift the curtain on September 23, the 19th Asian Games is poised to become the largest edition to date. It will feature 12,500 athletes hailing from 45 countries and regions, all vying for glory across 40 sports, 61 disciplines and 481 events.
During Wednesday's relay, Olympic badminton champion Chen Yufei, who clinched the women's singles crown at Tokyo 2020, held the honor of being the first torchbearer among the 203 individuals entrusted with this significant role.
Notable figures such as accomplished gymnast Zou Jingyuan, who has garnered an impressive trio of world titles on the parallel bars, and tennis star Wu Yibing, the first male player from the Chinese mainland to secure an ATP Tour title in the Open Era, also graced the relay as distinguished bearers.
The radiant flame has traversed through a remarkable journey across 11 cities in Zhejiang Province, namely Huzhou, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Zhoushan, Taizhou, Wenzhou, Lishui, Jinhua and Quzhou, before returning to Hangzhou on Wednesday to culminate its final leg. The relay has seen the participation of over 2,000 torchbearers, spanning a wide age range from 14 to 84, each contributing their unique spirit to this showpiece event.
In alignment with the Games' theme of being "Green, Smart, Economical, Ethical," the torch relay ingeniously integrates a digital component. The online relay, known as the "Digital Torchbearer," was inaugurated subsequent to the Asian Games flame collection ceremony on June 15.
Thus far, an astounding number of over 100 million people have engaged in the Asian Games' online torch relay, exemplifying the widespread enthusiasm and involvement surrounding this momentous occasion.