Nanjing bursts into life

Nanjing bursts into life

Almost 10 years after hosting China's National Games, the Olympic Sports Centre came alive again yesterday with the ignition of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) cauldron.

The opening ceremony kicked off at 8pm, dazzling and entertaining the capacity crowd in the 62,000-seat open-air arena despite heavy showers.

Taking place just a day after the 69th anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender and in a city that has an infamous link with the war, the ceremony - titled Light Up The Future - was also poignant.

In a way, the start of the Games lifted the dark veil that had for so long clouded Nanjing's painful history, giving the city an injection of youthful energy and hope.

Han Chunqi, who was the chief writer of the opening ceremony, said: "It is my hope that this will open a new and happier chapter for the city of Nanjing and its people."

Watched on by dignitaries like China President Xi Jinping and Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, the two hour-long show was a celebration of dreams and youth.

There were also elements such as local folk songs and the city's Purple Mountain observatory which showcased the Jiangsu provincial capital's culture and icons.

The aerial stunt performers were, without doubt, the most impressive segment of the show, and the group of 50 drew loud applause and cheers with each gravity-defying formation they completed.

While it was no surprise that four-time Olympic diving champion and Jiangsu darling Chen Ruolin would ignite the Olympic cauldron, the way in which it was done had been a secret closely-guarded secret.

The 21-year-old received the torch from fellow Chinese Olympic champions Lin Dan (badminton), Zhou Yang (short track speed skating), Zhang Jike (table tennis), Tang Yi (swimming, YOG) and Chen Ding (race walking) in the last leg of the torch relay.

She then used the torch to set off fireworks, which shot in the direction of the cauldron to ignite the YOG flame.

With rehearsals for the ceremony beginning six months ago across nine sites, the show was completed with the Chinese's trademark precision and efficiency.

The only blemish was when frosty Sino-Japan relations reared its ugly head with boos resounding in the stadium upon the announcement of the Japan team.

Singapore's 18-strong contingent was represented in the parade of flags by flag-bearer Jonathan Chan, a diver.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, attending his first YOG since taking over last September, encouraged athletes to take selfies and get into the spirit of the event.

He said: "You are showing your passion for sport... experience and promote the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. These are your Games; this is your moment. Enjoy your Games!"

About 3,800 athletes will begin competition today across 28 sports.

maychen@sph.com.sg

Catch the most comprehensive coverage of the YOG in HD on mio TV Ch134-137


This article was first published on Aug 17, 2014.
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