Goodbye Incheon, hello Jakarta!

Goodbye Incheon, hello Jakarta!

At a simple but colourful ceremony, South Korea bids adieu to the athletes of the continent.

The 17th Asian Games came to a glittering end in a ceremony that captured the very essence it has stood for over the last 17 days – One Asia, Dreams of 4.5 million people.Staged inside the Asian Main Stadium that resembled a humungous LED bowl with every seat fitted with a light bar, Incheon struck a chord with its simplicity, yet putting out a beautiful finale.

After opening its arms in warm fashion for athletes from 45 participating nations and officials from many more, the port city waved goodbye on a cold evening filled with dance performances and dazzling fireworks that mesmerized everyone.

Cheers rang out for every nation whose athletes trooped in numbers into the main area and soaked in the festive atmosphere. The ceremony, that constantly highlighted the struggles of the people who’ve made it happen backstage, started with a performance from Rainbow Choir. Comprising around 30 children from multicultural families, a symbolism of the extremely diverse Asia, the Rainbow Choir sang ‘Beautiful Nation’ and ‘When Tomorrow Comes In,’ drawing applause from everyone.

Seven dancers from Chunsanghwa academy then showed the two sides of Korea -- calm yet highly aspirational -- in a rhythmic performance before the National Gugak Centre took over, their drum-beating performance lifting the tempo of the 61,000 spectators. 

A video capturing the moments of joy, tension and despair of the athletes during the sporting festival was played on large screens which was followed by taekwondo fighters exercising their might in a drill.

A few more performances later, the athletes walked in and all of them applauded when young swimmer Kosuke Hagino -- touted as the next big thing in the pool after winning medals in all seven competitions that he took part in, including four gold --  received the Samsung Most Valuable Player award from OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

The Games were declared closed by Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti applauding Incheon before passing flag to Indonesia National Olympic Committee chief Rita Subowo. 

“The 17th Asian Games have come to an end, and it is time for us all to say goodbye to Incheon and goodbye to Korea. It seems like only yesterday that we gathered here in this magnificent stadium for the opening ceremony on September 19. 

“Between then and now we have witnessed some spectacular sports, some great athletes and have enjoyed their skills and performances.

“I declare the 17th Asian Games closed and as per the tradition, I call upon the youth of Asia to assemble in four years in Jakarta to celebrate the 18th Asian Games. May the youth of Asia ever celebrate the Asian Games in the spirit of brotherhood and for the good of humanity.”

Indonesia then gave a teaser of what people can expect from them, showing their vast biodiversity and modernisation in a video. The ceremonial flame, a brilliant piece of engineering mixing water fountains and fire, was put out before K-Pop group Bigbang churned out a few of their hits. Fireworks then lit up the night sky, bringing an end to the carnival that spread the message of unity and friendship.

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