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12,000 athletes and a lotus-shaped mega stadium. The Asian Games comes to China

By Jake Kwon, CNN

Hong Kong (CNN) — China’s leader Xi Jinping is to declare the Asian Games open at a lotus-shaped mega stadium in Hangzhou on Saturday.

The stadium, dubbed “the Big Lotus” for the shape of its roof, consists of 28 large and 27 smaller petal-shaped structures. The stadium can hold 80,000 people, according to its operator.

More than 12,000 athletes from the 45 members of the Asian Olympic Council will participate, making it the largest Asian Games ever, the Chinese state media news agency Xinhua reported Saturday.

Dignitaries from around the world have arrived for the opening ceremony, including Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu and South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.

The ceremony will be attended by around 50,000 people, while more than 1,200 volunteers will be at the venue to help, Xinhua reported.

China’s swimming world champion Qin Haiyang and basketball player Yang Liwei will be flag bearers of the Chinese delegation at the opening ceremony.

To promote environmental responsibility, digital fireworks will be used at the opening ceremony instead of actual fireworks, Xinhua reported citing the ceremony’s director Sha Xiaolan.

“Glasses-free 3D and augmented reality will provide the audience with a unique experience to feel local Chinese culture in Hangzhou,” Sha said.

Hangzhou, the home of Chinese tech-giant Alibaba, aims to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies during the games, including cloud computing and artificial intelligence at the Games Village, Xinhua reported. The organizers will deploy robots at some venues to provide guidance and security, according to Xinhua.

The 56 venues around China’s eastern city of Hangzhou will host 481 sporting events through October 8.

The game’s mascots are three robots: Chenchen, Congcong and Lianlian, each of which represents an ancient monument of the host city as well as the city’s “contemporary vibrancy,” according to the organizers.

The games, held every four years, were originally scheduled for 2022. They were postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a meeting on Friday with the organizers, Xi said the Chinese government and people were confident and capable of delivering a spectacular sports event that showcases Chinese features and celebrates the charm of Asia, according to Xinhua.

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