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China Daily: Floral-themed opening ceremony promises to stir the senses


Published : Oct. 27, 2023 - 00:10

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HANGZHOU, China, Oct. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- This is a report from China Daily on the Asian Games:


While the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou showcased to the world the host city's rich cultural heritage, picturesque scenery and technological prowess, the opening ceremony of the 4th Asian Para Games will present the softer side of Hangzhou and its people, according to the show's creative team.

Slated to start at 7:30 pm Beijing time on Sunday at the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, also known as the "Big Lotus", the ceremony seeks to convey the "sunny, harmonious, persevering and sharing" spirit of the Hangzhou Para Games in a show that will be culturally confident, technologically empowering and emotionally engaging, said Sha Xiaolan, chief director of the ceremony, at a news briefing on Thursday.

The key element that will bind all these themes together will be the osmanthus flower, Sha revealed.

"As the city flower of Hangzhou, it will be ubiquitous from beginning to end," he said.

A centerpiece prop of the gala will be 22 massive bouquets of golden osmanthus flowers.

With the help of technology, they will take on different configurations — sometimes as water, sometimes as arched bridges — before eventually turning into a giant crown, suspended in the air, welcoming every athlete as they enter the stadium.

"It represents love and best wishes for every athlete, and it symbolizes their pursuit of dreams and winning laurels," said Sha, who also directed the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Spectators will be treated to an olfactory feast, too, as the scent of osmanthus flowers will waft across the stadium during the ceremony.

"When looking for creative ideas, we have communicated with many people with disabilities," said Lyu Yuan, chief writer for the ceremony. "A clear realization for me is that we may never truly understand the challenges and difficulties they face."

However, the sense of smell can be shared by nearly everyone, Lyu explained.

Osmanthus flowers bloom in clusters, so at a time when their fragrance fills the Hangzhou air, they seem to be an ideal symbol for love and unity at the Para Games opening ceremony, Lyu added.

Indeed, the idea of inclusion can be seen throughout the entire production, which is themed around the slogan for the Para Games, "Hearts Meet, Dreams Shine".

"Most of the sequences will feature able-bodied and people with disabilities performing together," said Sha.

At the start of the ceremony, the Chinese national flag will be carried into the stadium by four children, two with disabilities and two without. A group of performers will "sing" songs, including the Chinese national anthem, using sign language.

In one segment, 36 able-bodied and 36 wheelchair dancers will team up to perform a series of choreographed sequences that evoke the pursuit of dreams, moving forward side by side and encouraging each other on the journey.

Chinese seal engraving, listed by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, will be used as the backdrop for this segment — a choice which is deeply significant, according to Sha.

"We can often see the scars on the bodies of para athletes or deep tracks left by wheelchairs after repeated training.

"These are the marks of their efforts, and much like the art of seal engraving, it is through these marks that they carve out their success," he said.

A stunning giant digital torchbearer, known as "Wave Rider", wowed the world when it lit the main cauldron with Olympic swimming gold medalist Wang Shun during the opening ceremony of the Asian Games. Advanced technology will aid the ignition of the cauldron again for the Para Games, albeit slightly differently.

The final torchbearer will use a high-tech prosthetic arm to finish the task, together with Feifei, the mascot of the Para Games.

"It is an embodiment of how technological development empowers people with disabilities and helps their dreams come true," said Sha.

Inspired by the image of the "Divine Bird" — believed to be a bringer of glad tidings — found in the 5,000-year-old Liangzhu civilization, Feifei the mascot is an icon of Hangzhou's heritage and drive for technological innovation, a messenger of culture, joy and happiness.

Meticulous preparations have been made to create a barrier-free environment in the stadium and ensure a smooth viewing experience for spectators, said Li Yiqing, spokesperson for the Hangzhou Asian Para Games opening and closing ceremonies' operations center.

Over 60 accessible ramps have been provided, more than 300 accessible light box signs installed, 196 wheelchair-accessible seats added, alongside 26 permanent, and eight temporary, accessible bathrooms, she added.