GUANGZHOU, China, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The first-ever BRICS Games raised its curtain here at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center on Saturday evening.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to express his sincere welcome to all of the distinguished guests, athletes and coaches attending the five-day Games.
"I believe that the upcoming BRICS Games will provide a unique opportunity to improve performance, popularize traditional sports, promote sports development and enhance friendship among peoples. I hope athletes on all sides will display true sportsmanship and excel in the Games," Xi said in the letter.
Gou Zhongwen, director of China's General Administration of Sport, declared open the Games which features some 300 athletes from five countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, with 10 events up for grabs in three sports - men's basketball, women's volleyball and Wushu.
As the host country, China has sent a delegation of 53 people, including 32 athletes, to take part in the first comprehensive multilateral sports and culture exchanges under the framework of BRICS cooperation.
The Chinese athletes, with an average age of 21.4, will cover all the 10 events.
Basketball player Han Dejun carried China's national flag at the opening ceremony, which was highlighted by Chinese traditional dragon dance and lion dance as well as Indian Yoga performance.
The women's volleyball event started on Saturday morning and the first gold medal will come from the wushu court on Sunday.
Apart from the competitions, the organizers have also arranged a series of culture events for the athletes and coaches at the Games.
The launch of the first BRICS Games marked an important consensus reached at the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa, India last October. China will host the 9th BRICS Summit in September in the coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province.