The opening ceremony of the 18th Asian Games is held at Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Main Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 18, 2018.(Xinhua/Fei Maohua)
JAKARTA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The 18th Asian Games has officially begun Saturday with an opening ceremony featuring Indonesia's spectacular landscapes, wonderful history and diverse cultures.
Here are some highlights from the ceremony at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in Jakarta:
Indonesian President Joko Widodo made a spectacular entrance by riding a motorcycle into the stadium.
In a video shown at the very beginning of the ceremony, the President, troubled by traffic jam, mounted on a motorcycle to take a shortcut through the alleys.
When a man in black and wearing a helmet rode into the stadium, cheers burst from the crowd.
The man on the motorcycle waved to the excited audience, and then rode to the back stage where, according to the live video, he took off the helmet and the president looked solemn in his suit.
He mounted again to the center of the stage, shook hands with his honored guests, and the ceremony began.
The whole ceremony was staged with the backdrop of an enormous mountain reminiscent of the lush landscapes of Indonesia.
The mountain on the stage has a total weight of 600 tons and a size of 120 meters long, 30 meters wide and 26 meters tall.
It comprises of more than 12,775 real plants and flowers planted across more than 1,350 square meters, with a stunning waterfall with 70 tons of cascading water.
It was believed to be the largest set piece ever featured in a multi-games ceremony.
Besides the mountain, a life-sized replica nusantara ship and a 10-meter shimmering sun that is said to be created by 122,637 gold mylar disks, also attracted people's eyeballs during the ceremony.
According to local media, the ceremony took a year to prepare and cost about 500 billion to 600 billion Indonesian rupiah (34 million to 41 million U.S. dollars.)
Indonesia hosted the Asian Games for the first time in 1962.
The then Indonesian President Sukarno, who supported the bid for the 1962 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta, made a speech at the Games, saying that the Games was a milestone for the Indonesian people, especially for Indonesian sports.
He also said that Games was significant for enhancing the communication between the Indonesian people and the world.
The ceremony paid tribute to the former events by showing a video of the late president making his speech at the ceremony 56 years ago.
A MOMENT OF SILENCE
A moment of silence was observed at the opening ceremony in memory of the deceased in the recent earthquake.
A 7.0-magnitude quake struck off Lombok Island on Aug. 5, a week after a 6.4-magnitude hit the tourist favorite destination island, since then, hundreds of aftershocks have followed.
The number of death toll of the strong quake rattling Lombok Islands of central Indonesia has surged to 460 people, while rescuers kept scrambling to pull out of the victims from ruins, an official of disaster agency disclosed on Thursday.
FLAG OF UNITY
Athletes from South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) entered the stadium together.
Lim Young Hee, a female basketball player from South Korea, and Ju Yong Chol, a male football player from the DPRK, carrying a unified Korean flag which displays the entire Korean peninsula in blue against a white backdrop, led the delegations into the stadium.
It was the 11th time for athletes from South Korea and the DPRK to march together at the opening ceremony of a multi-games ceremony, with the most recent one at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics earlier this year.
LIGHTING OF ASIAN GAMES CAULDRON
The flame for the 18th Asian Games was ignited at New Delhi, India, the host city for the first Asian Games. The flame was transported to Indonesia by air, and then fused with the eternal flame of Mrapen, an eternal flame that is the result of natural geologic activity in Indonesia.
The domestic torch relay visited 54 cities in 18 provinces of Indonesia from July 17 to Aug. 18.
At the opening ceremony on Aug. 18, the last six of the torch bearers relayed up the mountain at the stage, and Susi Susanti, Indonesia's first Olympic gold medalist, lit the cauldron, and with this, the torch completes its journey.