Hangzhou 2022: Team Singapore’s largest Asiad contingent begins campaign amidst bumper participation
By Jeremiah Ong
Team Singapore athletes will be fired up and raring to go at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games after the pandemic forced the quadrennial multi-sport event to endure a year-long postponement.
Under the lights at the 80,000-seater Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, 129 of Team Singapore’s athletes, officials and support staff marched out in front of a capacity crowd in the eastern Chinese city on Saturday (Sep 23) evening.
Team Singapore's marching into the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium on Saturday's (Sep 23) opening ceremony. Photo: SNOC/Eng Chin An
Decked out in red blazers, the contingent was led by Chef de Mission, Dr Koh Koon Teck and flag bearers, fencer Amita Berthier and wushu athlete Jowen Lim.
After the parade, 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist Berthier said: “The opening ceremony was simply enthralling. Marching together with my fellow Team Singapore athletes felt amazing and made me very proud to be the flag bearer together with Jowen.
“The sense of exuberance is beyond one’s expectation, I am looking forward with excitement to the competition and the rest of the Games.”
Team Singapore’s Amita Berthier and Jowen Lim lead the contingent. Photo: SportSG/Alfie Lee
Lim described his experience as flag bearer as one of the best since becoming an athlete.
“I felt a great sense of pride for Singapore, and I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity. It has been a great start to the Games in Hangzhou and I’m hoping I can do Singapore proud on the sporting stage,” Lim said.
Over the next 15 days, Team Singapore’s athletes will look to shred records, scale new heights and maybe even etch their names in history across 32 out of the 40 sports on offer.
Team Singapore’s contingent marching through the stadium. Photo: SNOC/Eng Chin An
But tonight, they will collectively scribble their names into the record books after being a part of the largest entourage Singapore has sent to an Asiad. This year’s attendance of 431 athletes greatly surpassed the previous record of 265 athletes who travelled to Palembang five years ago.
Team Singapore is not the only one to experience bumper participation.
The pan-Asian showpiece is expected to host nearly 12,500 athletes from 45 nations, its largest group to date, far exceeding the 10,500 expected at next year’s Paris Olympics.
The 19th edition of the Asiad will mark the first since the pandemic hit and the hosts were eager to kick off proceedings in style. When Chinese basketball player Yang Liwei and world champion swimmer Qin Haiyang led the local contingent out, the stadium erupted in rapturous applause.
A lightshow performance substituted traditional fireworks, illuminating the stadium to equal degree. Photo: SNOC/Eng Chin An
After the athletes’ parade and performance, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, declared the Games open.
Traditional fireworks, a staple for opening ceremonies of major sporting events, were substituted by a greener alternative in the form of a digital lightshow as a testament to the organisers’ commitment towards the environment. Still, the lightshow entertained and gained roars of approval from the onlooking crowd.
To cap off the night, the Games cauldron was lit by Tokyo Olympics gold medallist and swimmer Wang Shun.
The last time the Asiad landed on the country’s shores was in 2010 in Guangzhou and 1990 in Beijing.
Prior to tonight’s ceremony, sporting action had already begun for some of Team Singapore’s athletes in sailing, modern pentathlon, table tennis and rowing.
The 19th Asian Games are held in Hangzhou, China from 23 September to 8 October 2023. For the latest Team Singapore coverage and news, follow Team Singapore on their social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) or visit the official Team Singapore website.