The 19th Asian Games commenced with a spectacular opening ceremony on Sept. 23 in Hangzhou, located in east China's Zhejiang province. The event coincided with the Autumn Equinox, a significant date among China's 24 solar terms, symbolizing harvest and reunion in Chinese culture.
The ceremony showcased the fusion of digital technology and Eastern aesthetics, presenting Hangzhou's rich history, cultural heritage, and its status as a digital city.
The gala performance consisted of three chapters: "Timeless Grace," "Tidal Bore of the Qiantangjiang River," and "Together Towards the Future."
"The opening ceremony showcased the beauty of nature and history, technology, as well as sports through the integration of technological assistance and artistic creativity," said Cui Wei, assistant director of the Hangzhou Asian Games opening ceremony.
The LED ground produces a 3D visual effect, featuring the ancient Gongchen Bridge that connected the past with the present. [Photo/Xinhua]
The ceremony paid homage to Hangzhou's abundant cultural heritage, prominently featuring symbols of historical significance such as Liangzhu Civilization, West Lake, Qiantang River, and traditional Chinese calligraphy and paintings. These cultural elements were vividly brought to life through advanced visual effects and artistic presentations.
As the official song played, simulated osmanthus petals floated in the air, accompanied by the flower's fragrance, paying homage to Hangzhou's city flower and providing a sensory feast for the audience.
"Through the various chapters of the performance, we showed the continuity of Chinese innovation and culture. We displayed fully the key attributes of Chinese civilization," said Sha Xiaolan, chief director and chief producer of the Hangzhou Asian Games opening ceremony.
Expanding upon the rich cultural tapestry unveiled in the opening ceremony, the Hangzhou Asian Games continued to break new ground with its innovative use of technology.
A digital torchbearer and swimmer Wang Shun jointly light the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province, Sept. 23, 2023. [Photo by Dong Ning/China.org.cn]
In a historic first for the Asian Games, the torch lighting ceremony was conducted both digitally and in real-time. A digital torchbearer, symbolizing national participation, was projected onto screens while Chinese swimmer Wang Shun simultaneously approached the cauldron.
Remarkably, over 100 million people participated on digital platforms to collectively illuminate the cauldron. "We wanted to convey to everyone that the lighting of the cauldron is something that everyone should participate in," explained Sha Xiaolan.
The innovative use of technology extended beyond the torch lighting. To emphasize the commitment to sustainability, the fireworks display was also created digitally, highlighting Hangzhou's dedication to hosting a "greener" games.
In addition, it featured the first-ever use of 3D dual aerial performance technology in a major stadium, said Meng Ke, executive director for the Hangzhou Asian Games Opening Ceremony.
3D dual aerial performance technology is used in the performance of the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games. [Photo by Dong Ning/China.org.cn]
"It was something very difficult to pull off. The whole system was tailored for the opening ceremony, and the team spent almost two years on it, making many revisions along the way for the eventual effect that we saw," Meng said.
"The technology allowed us to be more expressive," Sha added.