(ECNS) -- With only about two weeks until the 19th Asian Games, the torch relay, a major pre-opening ceremony, officially commenced on Friday morning at Yongjin Park Square near the iconic West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.
After nearly three months of preparation, the torch relay promises to be a highlight of the Games.
Culturally profound torch design
Eternal Flame (or Xin Huo), the name of the Hangzhou Asian Games torch, stands at a height of 730 millimeters and has a net weight of 1,200 grams.
Theoutlet is designed after the earliest oracle bone inscriptions of Jade Cong, a ritual artifact of the Liangzhu culture, representing over 5,000 years of Chinese civilization and bearing the message of "Light moving in cycles."
Eight veins at the base of the torch symbolize the eight major water systems of Zhejiang Province.
Dual burners are adopted as the main structure while other innovative technologies have been incorporated to ensure flame stability.
"The torch has undergone 3,000 tests in various scenarios. The flame can remain lit and burn brightly even under the rainfall of 300 mm per hour," said Du Zuofeng, deputy chief of the Hangzhou Asian Games Torch Relay Command Center.
Given that the torch relay takes place in public, measures have been taken to minimize the impact of extreme weather.
The torch will journey through 11 cities in Zhejiang Province before returning on its final leg to Hangzhou on Sept. 20.
Additionally, the Asian Games Organizing Committee has prepared three backup lamps to ensure the flame remains lit from the moment it is collected until the main torch tower is extinguished.
The torch relay command center has collaborated with the Asian Games Meteorological Center to establish a comprehensive forecast and analysis system to ensure precise weather monitoring.
Picturesque torch relay route
Covering approximately 5.2 kilometers and involving106 torchbearers, the first-day relay will conclude at "Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake," one of 10 scenic spots surrounding West Lake.
After that, the torch will pass through Huzhou, Jiaxing, Shaoxing, Ningbo, Zhoushan, Taizhou,Wenzhou, Lishui, Jinhua and Quzhou in turn, with 170 torchbearers completing eight to nine kilometers in each city.
In line with the Games’ ethos of being "green, smart, economical, and ethical," the torch relay route follows international competition conventions while also showcasing the natural beauty and developmental characteristics of each city in Zhejiang Province.
For example, the route in Hangzhou focuses on the city's development, tracing its historical and cultural roots from the Liangzhu civilization to the West Lake and the Qiantang River.
After the Asian Games flame gathering ceremony on June 15, the Digital Torchbearer relay for the Hangzhou Asian Games was launched online.
Currently, the online event has reached more than 40 cities domestically and internationally, with over 84 million participants.
"In the digital age, everyone is a torchbearer. The Hangzhou Asian Games is expected to involve the most participants, feature the most events, and enjoy the widest range of influence," said Du.
Extensive participation of torchbearers
With the theme "Heart to heart, @future," the torch relay will feature 2,022 torchbearers, most of whom are elected through recommendations, with 30 randomly selected through the online platform.
Du explained that the torchbearers’ diverse backgrounds are considered, as they include outstanding athletes, coaches, role models from various fields, and other contributors to the Hangzhou Asian Games.
The youngest torchbearer is 14 years old, while the oldest is 84. There are 732 female torchbearers, 1,219 grassroots representatives, 1,069 role models, 275 sports professionals, and several representatives from ethnic minorities, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and people with disabilities.
Olympic champions like Fan Zhendong in table tennis, Chen Yufei in badminton, and Wang Shun in swimming will all participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games torch relay.