China initiated the Asian Games torch relay on Friday, September 8, after postponing it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of spectators lined the streets of Hangzhou, the host city, eagerly awaiting the launch ceremony at 9 am.
Ahead of the Asian Games torch relay ceremony, enthusiastic fans brandishing miniature national flags gathered around the picturesque West Lake area several hours in advance. At the event, a pair of high-ranking officials had the privilege of lighting the sleek metal torch, and then a succession of national figures paraded it through the streets.
Scheduled to commence on September 23, the Asian Games will take place in Hangzhou, a city in eastern China known for its graceful temples, canals, and bridges. China postponed the Games, which they had initially planned for September of the previous year, due to the rigorous zero-COVID laws. However, authorities have since relaxed those regulations.
The torch relay will traverse 11 cities in the region, featuring participation from over 2,000 individuals, ultimately returning to Hangzhou on September 20. Those taking part on Friday, all donned in white tracksuits with red accents, included former swimming world champion Luo Xuejuan and Daniel Zhang, CEO of the Hangzhou-based tech giant Alibaba.
Hangzhou resident Shao Yan, 37, shared her excitement, saying, “Lots of people were already here when we got here at 6.30 am. “I hope the Asian Games will proceed smoothly, and we will see more of these kinds of activities in the future,” she told AFP.
Some spectators had traveled from far-flung locations, like Peng, a tourist from the southern island province of Hainan. He expressed his excitement, saying, “I felt very excited after watching it. It shows that our country is very powerful.”
This year’s Asian Games is poised to be the largest edition ever, featuring 12,500 athletes from 45 countries and regions.