Flame lit for Asian Games as 100-day countdown starts

2023-06-16 08:14:26China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A flame collector carries a torch with the flame for the 19th Asian Games during a ceremony in Liangzhu Ancient City in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Thursday. (LYU ZHIYAO/FOR CHINA DAILY)

The flame for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, was lit in an elaborate ceremony on Thursday, marking the start of the 100-day countdown to the opening of the sporting extravaganza.

The lighting of the Games torch took place in Liangzhu Ancient City — which was inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site in 2019 — at an event that drew heavily on the country's ancient culture and heritage.

The torch relay will start in September at West Lake, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hangzhou, with the torch to be carried to 11 cities in Zhejiang. The relay will culminate in the lighting of the cauldron at the Games' opening ceremony on Sept 23.

Nineteen female flame collectors, dressed in flowing white gowns, ascended steps to a central point at the ancient site on Thursday, where one of them lit a torch from the rays of the sun using a concave mirror. The outline of the mirror, designed like a jadeware named bi, symbolized the sun's rays.

The collector then presented the torch to Yi Lianhong, Party secretary of Zhejiang province, who ignited a flame box, the design of which was inspired by a jadeware named cong.

Bi and cong unearthed at the archaeological site were used as sacrificial vessels in Liangzhu Culture, which dates back 4,300 to 5,300 years.

"The archaeological ruins of Liangzhu Ancient City are a holy place that represent Chinese civilization dating back more than 5,000 years," said Fang Xiangming, director of the Zhejiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. "The ruins represent a unique historical and cultural window through which to show ancient and modern China to the world."

The torch for the Games also takes its design cues from a jade cong and is inspired by Liangzhu Culture. The eternal flame, or xin huo, indicates that Chinese civilization has been passed down from generation to generation.

In addition, the medal of the Asian Games, named shan shui, was unveiled to mark the 100-day milestone, and is characterized by cong, the ceremonial jadeware.

A digital torch relay also kicked off online on Thursday. As of Thursday afternoon, over 21 million people have participated in a virtual torch relay as digital torchbearers through online platforms. The opening ceremony will present the first digital ignition ceremony in the Asian Games' history, and digital torchbearers worldwide will be able to ignite the flame online together.

Despite the one-year postponement of the Asian Games, Hangzhou is poised to host one of the biggest sport events in the world.

More than 10,000 athletes from across Asia will gather for the Games, to compete in 483 medal events across 40 sports.


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