Goodbye Jakarta, hello Hangzhou

Goodbye Jakarta, hello Hangzhou

Artists perform during the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in Jakarta. Reuters

A melange of popular songs set the pulse racing as Indonesia said goodbye to the 18th Asian Games at a compact and lively ceremony here on Sunday.

In a sign of the times, thousands of mobile phones captured the excitement on stage at the GBK Stadium, with sportspersons from across the continent joining the young army of volunteers in the big bash.

In contrast to the opening ceremony when Indonesia held a mirror to its traditional art forms, it was the pop culture on view at the finale, with a few Bollywood numbers too thrown in as a surprise element. Siddharth Slathia had the audience swaying to his rhythm as he belted out Koi Mil Gaya and Jai Ho, underlining the influence Bollywood wields even in Indonesia.

The musical evening marked the conclusion of 15 days of sporting action, neatly organised by the Indonesians in Jakarta and Palembang. Heavy rain prior to the start had threatened to spoil the fete but as the weather eased, the ceremonial segment took off smoothly. 

The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach was among the guests as Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah, the president of Olympic Council of Asia, declared the Games closed, and Indonesia handed the torch to China, who will host the next edition in Hangzhou.

It will be the third time the Games will be travelling to China, after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010. A brief presentation showed what will be in store culturally in Hangzhou, with China having shown their sporting capabilities once more in the days gone by.

The Dragon topped the medals tally again, though not in the manner they would have liked. A total of 132 gold medals were their lowest in the last five editions, starting from Busan in 2002. 

The big movers in Jakarta were Japan who amassed 75 gold medals to equal their tally from Teheran 1974. Tokyo is set to host the 2020 Olympic Games and the Japanese have made it very clear that their preparations are very much on course for a spectacular show at home.

Indonesia also put in their best-ever show, thanks to the home-bred sport Pencak Silat contributing 14 of their 31 gold medals. An extra gold medal too wouldn’t be out of place for their efficient organisation. Terima Kasih, Indonesia!

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