The first group of Sri Lanka sportsmen and women for the 17th Asian Games in due in Icheon, South Korea tonight. Sri Lanka's 111-member contingent which will take part in nine disciplines will arrive in five batches starting today.
Carrying the lion flag at Friday's opening ceremony of the 45-nation games will be Sri Lanka's champion weightlifter Chinthana Vidanage who has brought many international victories for his country.
Sri Lanka chef de mission Rear Admiral Shemal Fernando, Deputy chef de mission Upali Kumarasiri and two other officials arrived in Incheon yesterday.
Rear Admiral Fernando exuded confidence that Sri Lanka would make its presence felt.
(women's 100m) and Damayanthi Darsha (women's 400m) bagged gold medals in Busan 2002, the last time South Korea hosted Asian Games, Sri Lanka has failed to win a gold. With cricket being included in Incheon 2014 and the other sportsmen and women making a determined effort, there is a good chance for Sri Lanka to strike gold this time around.
After seven years of planning and preparations, Incheon is all set to conduct the 17th edition of Asian version of Olympics. Although the opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday, the soccer tournament started well ahead of the formal opening due to the high number of entries.
Hosts South Korea launched its Asian Games men's soccer tournament campaign in style with a convincing three goals to nil win over Malaysia at Munhak Stadium last evening. The winners who led 1-0 at half time, cut loose to strike two more goals in the second half to entertain the home crowd at the stadium built for the 2002 FIFA World Cup which Korea co-hosted with Japan.
Japan, South Korea's main contender for the gold medal too shaped well in their first match of the tournament, beating Kuwait by four goals to one. Japan which led 1-0 at the breather, went on the offensive to score three goals in the second half at Incheon Stadium.
In the other opening round matches of the men's football tournament, Saudi Arabia beat Laos 3-0, Tajikistan beat Singapore 1-0, Iraq beat Nepal 4-0 and Palestine beat Oman 2-0.
South Korea's women too had a winning start, overcoming Thailand in grand style 5-0 after leading 2-0 at half time in their group 'A' match at Namdong Stadium. In another women's football tournament match, India had a record 15 goals to nil win over a helpless Maldivian side with nine of their goals coming in the first half.
With world powers China and Japan sending strong teams, swimming will be one of the star attractions at the 16-day sports extravaganza.
Art Director of Asian Games ceremonies Jang plans an unique opening show on Friday. Unlike the previous Asian Games and Olympics that focused on flaunting their national power, such as 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, 2012 London Olympics, and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games won't simply show off a scale but try to deliver a clear message - "4.5 billion Asians' dream, Asia as one".
The opening ceremony on Friday will start at 6pm local time at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium and it will be composed of welcoming events, which will begin with poet Go Eun's recitation of "Asiad Song" along with soprano Jo Su-Mi and Incheon Metropolitan Citizens Choir's song, opening performances, cultural performances, torch lighting, and congratulatory performances.
The main part of the opening performance will develop a story composed of four acts, from "Asia long time ago," "Asia meeting through the sea," "Asia as family and friends," and to "Asia as one and future joining with today," and Hallyu stars Chang Dong-Geon and Kim Soo-Hyun will lead the stories.
Chang, a prominent Korean actor, will narrate the first story and Kim, also a famous actor, will appear through a video during the second stage. Five musical stars, such as Ok Joo-Hyun and Michael Lee, will sing and classic artists, such as violist Richard Yong-Jae O'Neil and cellist Song Young-Hoon, will follow with their beautiful playing in the cultural segment of the opening ceremony.
Korean traditional classic artist AhnSook-Seon's "Pansori" will deliver a unique harmony of Korean traditional and classic music. Many K-Pop stars, such as JYJ, EXO, CNBlue, SISTAR, and PSY, will light up the ceremonies, and there are high expectations for Chinese pianist Lang Lang's collaboration performance with K-Pop stars.
In particular, JYJ, the PR ambassadors of the Incheon Asian Games, will sing "Only One", the theme song of the Incheon Asian Games, as the torch is lit and the congratulatory performances of the opening ceremony will come to a great finale with PSY and other popular stars.
Japan, better known the world over in sumo wrestling, is stepping in to the cricket arena at the Incheon 2014 Games. Years after samurai warriors had threatened to kill the game of cricket, Japan's women cricket team is roaring to win the bronze medal.
The trump card in Japan's women's cricket team will be Chihiro Sakamoto, a hard-hitting former softball player. Sri Lanka is among the teams that would compete in T20 women's cricket tournament of the Asian Games.
India missed the chance to submit its bid to host the next Games. Indian Sports Minister had told media that the country could not put together a proposal in time to meet the bidding deadline.
The Olympic Council of Asia had relaxed the bid deadline of July 1 by a couple of days but the Indian Olympic Association could not arrange government clearances in time. Bidding for the event was reopened after Hanoi, which had initially been awarded the Games, pulled out as host. The Indian bid was initially delayed due to uncertainty about bidding following the crisis-hit 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. India held the Asian Games twice - the inaugural event in 1951 and in 1982, both in New Delhi.