Incheon ready to welcome Asia

South Korean city has prepared for the continental bash in an efficient manner
Last Updated 16 September 2014, 18:28 IST

Having hosted the Asian Games twice earlier and the FIFA World Cup alo­ng with Japan, South Korea know very well how to prepare for a big event. And, it is very evident as Incheon gears up to stage the 17th ediiton of the continental sporting spectacle.

With the Games scheduled to kick-start on Friday, there are no visible signs of chaos or last-minute rushes with logistics seemingly in place. With the athletes from various participating countries checking in by numbers, the Incheon International Airport — rated as one the of best airports in the world — appears well-equipped to handle the rush that is bound to increase with nearly 10,000 athletes set to compete in the event until October 4.

“It is really wonderful that Incheon is hosting the Asian Games,” said a volunteer. “Most of them identify South Korea only through Seoul. But, Incheon is developing at a fast clip and Asian Games offers us a chance to showcase our City. We hope to showcase our organisational skills once again.”

The banners are there to welcome you but are not loud. Transport for the athletes and visiting media from the airport to the venues are already charted out via shuttle services and they work with clockwork precision.

However, transport will be put through the real test over the next three weeks when the events start. Korea haven’t splurged like countries normally do for such big events, even though competition will be held in 36 different sports -- more than the Olympics – at 49 venues, including 17 new ones. Maybe they are trying to prove the Games’ motto “Diversity Shines Here” right.

The spread of events across such vast areas could also prove dampener for the fans who may have to do a lot of travelling if they wish to catch their favourite stars in action.

One major talking point ahead of event is the security and that is well taken care of. With neighbours North Korea set to compete, locals feel security has been heavier than usual with many personnel armed quite heavily.

While the buzz is expectedly heavier at the airport and media centres, it appears a bit subdued on the streets with the general excitement somewhat missing. The football action which kicked off on Sunday saw matches played in front of empty stadiums.

It remains to be seen whether the interest picks up after the opening ceremony on September 19 when the Games will be officially declared open.

South Korea is using to promote Incheon as its next big business hub. Very close to the capital Seoul, the city has a very posh feel to it with plenty of sky-scrapers and well laid out roads. The Games is a way to further enhance its status.

(Published 16 September 2014, 18:28 IST)

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