The 19th edition of the Asian Games is all set to kick off today in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.
Delayed by a year due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the 19th edition of the event is set to officially begin with a two-hour opening ceremony from 5.30pm.
The opening ceremony for the Asian Games will take place at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, which is capable of accommodating up to 80,000 people.
The stadium was completed in 2018 and is mostly used for soccer matches, features a retractable roof, a circular LED screen, and a natural grass field.
Dating back to 1951, the Games are bigger than the Olympics when it comes to the number of athletes and sports – and this year’s competition is billed as the biggest in history.
Nearly 12,500 athletes – more than ever – from 45 countries and territories will be competing across 40 sports. The Games will be held in 56 venues, 12 of which have been newly built.
The programme includes the more traditional events, such as athletics and swimming but also those which reflect Asia’s diverse sporting culture, such as sepak takraw, or kick volleyball, kabaddi, and wushu, a martial art.
China, as the host country, has the privilege of choosing which sports to include in the programme, with bridge, chess and Xiangqi (Chinese chess) being among the non-Olympic events featured in the schedule.
Meanwhile, e-sports, breakdancing and sport climbing will be making their Games debut, in an effort to attract the interest of younger people.
FIFA Online 4, Street Fighter V and League of Legends are among the seven e-sport medal events.
The Games will see participants competing for 481 gold medals across 15 days.
Sri Lanka is fielding a 96-member contingent with 62 male and 34 female athletes.
The closing ceremony on October 8 will include the handover to Japan before the 2026 Aichi-Nagoya Games.
Qatar will host the Asian Games in 2030.