President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially opened on Saturday night Asia’s biggest sporting event at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, in a dazzling ceremony that showcased the nation’s traditional cultures.
“On behalf of the Indonesian people, we are proud and we are honored to welcome our special guests from 45 countries. With the 18th Asian Games, we, the nations of Asia, want to show [the world] that we are brothers, we are united and we want to reach our goals,” said the President, who entered the venue riding a motorcycle.
“By saying bismillahhirohmanirrohim [in the name of God, the most gracious and merciful], I declare that the 18th Asian Games are open.”
Witnessed by around 40,000 spectators inside Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, the ceremony opened with 2,200 high school dancers from 18 senior high schools across the capital who enchanted the audience with the Saman dance, a traditional dance from Aceh, the westernmost province in the country.
Welcomed by the dancers, thousands of athletes from 44 National Olympic Committee (NOC) contingents then started to walk into the arena in front of a grandiose stage designed to resemble a mountain.
Each contingent was led by a representative that wore a bird-shaped costume designed by Dynand Fariz, who is famous for his creations from the Jember Fashion Carnaval, an annual parade.
After all contingents entered the arena, spectators immediately cheered loudly when the country’s team entered the arena as the last contingent of the night.
This is Indonesia’s second time hosting the Asian Games, having previously done so in 1962 in Jakarta.