HANGZHOU: China is fully prepared to host a remarkable Asian Games in Olympic standard from Sept 23 to Oct 8 after being delayed a year by the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the Beijing 1990 and Guangzhou 2010 editions, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, is the third Chinese city to host the world’s second-largest multi-sport event.

The 19th Asian Games features 481 events from 40 sports being hosted in 54 venues, mainly in Hangzhou, and five co-host cities - Ningbo, Wenzhou, Huzhou, Shaoxing and Jinhua.

In accordance with the theme ‘Heart to Heart, @Future,’ Hangzhou had modern and green elements in the hosting, including cashless payment systems and advanced technologies.

China’s President Xi Jinping is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, nicknamed “the Big Lotus” this Saturday.

Based on Bernama’s observation, the readiness activities to welcome and host about 12,000 athletes from 45 countries are in full swing with dedicated transport services, comfortable accommodations, dining facilities and state-of-the-art venues all in place.

Bernama’s journey from the Hangzhou International Airport to the Media Village located at the newly developed Qianjiang Century City yesterday was assisted with dedicated Immigration lanes and shuttle services, with the 19th Asian Games decorations and promotional materials such as banners, buntings and flowers seen throughout the city.

Special thanks to the volunteers for easing the process.

The Main Media Centre (MMC) located at the Hangzhou International Expo Centre, provides a conducive working environment for some 5,000 media personnel expected to cover the Games.

The MMC includes the Main Press Centre, International Broadcast Centre, press conference rooms and dining area with affordable multi-cuisines as well as other services like telecommunications, banking and currency exchange to facilitate members of the media.

South China Morning Post (SCMP) News Editor for Sport and Racing Joshua Ball, who has around 25 years of vast experience in sports journalism including the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth and 2012 London Olympic Games, said the Asian Games is being organised well.

“This is my first Asian Games, and it is very impressive. It is an interesting experience, the Media Centre is obviously fantastic, the Media Village is very big, and the transport system is really good.

“This Asian Games has more athletes competing than Tokyo and Paris Olympic Games. Organising something like this will take a lot of time and work, done really well,” he told Bernama when met at the MMC.

The Hangzhou 2022 is the first Asian Games to offer Olympic qualifications for boxing, joining the likes of archery, hockey, sailing, tennis and breaking, while esports is to be contested as the medal sport for the first time ever.

The Hangzhou Games will also feature around 200 North Korean athletes, the country’s first participation in an international multisport event since the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, ending its isolation since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in early 2020. -Bernama

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