A perfect performance
Spectacular closing ceremony bids an emotional farewell to Hangzhou, spotlighting the contributions of essential workers and volunteers, as well as the achievements of the thousands of athletes
The giant digital torchbearer, who ignited the main flame alongside the Olympic champion and 19th Asian Games gold medalist swimmer Wang Shun during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou, was back.
With a new name, "Wave Rider", it made a return appearance to witness the ceremonial extinguishing of the flame, accompanied by volunteers and athletes at the closing ceremony in Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, fondly referred to as the "Big Lotus", on Sunday night.
The closing ceremony, themed "Enduring Memories of Hangzhou", brought the athletes to the center stage, setting the tone for a festive atmosphere.
Short films were screened to recap the thrilling and heartwarming moments of the Games, highlighting athletes from 45 countries and regions.
Sha Xiaolan, chief director of the ceremony, said the show also extended heartfelt gratitude to all the volunteers, whose contributions have been instrumental in the success of the Games.
The beauty of technology dazzled, with a notable highlight being the "digital lawn". After the final athletics event on the evening of Oct 5, when the competition facilities were removed, all that remained for the closing ceremony stage was a simple lawn.
The creative team made the bold decision to utilize this lawn to craft the "world's largest and most exquisite garden" to provide a tranquil and joyful retreat for the athletes, Sha said.
This seemingly ordinary lawn hid a remarkable secret. Sha explained "though the lawn appears unassuming, it concealed nearly 40,000 luminescent points. During the closing ceremony, the lawn harmonized with the performances, conjuring up patterns such as blossoms and waves. Furthermore, through AR technology, viewers at home got a complete view of this enchanting garden."
Chinese culture also continued to radiate through the closing ceremony. Sunday coincided with "Cold Dew", one of the 24 solar terms on the Chinese lunar calendar, signifying the season when lotus and osmanthus in Hangzhou gracefully transition.
Through two spectacular performances, A Joyful Gathering and The Lotus and the Osmanthus in Harmony, the creation team bade a fond farewell to the guests from all corners of the world, hoping for a future reunion.
Wu Yan, the executive producer of the closing ceremony, said that the event emphasized the importance of human emotions and paid tribute to the dedication of all the athletes and volunteers, who have poured their sweat and tears into the event.
At the ceremony's conclusion, a video with the central theme of "farewell" was showcased. It focused on the guests, volunteers and people of Hangzhou expressing their reluctance to say farewell and expressing their wishes to see each other again in the future.
Wu said she hoped this moment from the closing ceremony will forever be etched in everyone's hearts as a cherished memory of the Asian Games, and of Hangzhou.
"All athletes will carry this heartfelt wish from Hangzhou with them as they return home," she said.
The ceremony concluded with the formal handing-over of the Asian Games torch and Olympic Council of Asia flag to Japan, which will host the continental sporting gala in Aichi-Nagoya in 2026.
For many of the athletes, coaches and technical staff, however, with nine sports in Hangzhou serving as qualifiers, their attention will now turn westward to Paris and next year's Olympic Games.