Sunday, 21 September 2014

2014 Asian Games' Parade Of National Colors

I missed the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, not that I had tickets, but I would have wanted to watch it on TV. Unfortunately, last Friday night, I was out for dinner when almost all of the 9,501 officially registered athletes from 45 participating countries to the Games paraded before the crowd at the Asian Games' main stadium.

Thankfully, my dinner was just nearby at a Korean barbecue restaurant (which was very good!) next to the Samgakji Station. So, when it was done, I rushed home and was able to catch the tail-end of the program.

I got to see the last torchbearers as they entered the stadium. I only recognized the lady golfer and the last guy, Lee Hyung-Taik, who was a professional tennis player.

When JYJ went up the stage to sing the theme song of the Games, I felt relieved. Why? Because weeks before the Games, angry JYJ fans bombarded the official Facebook page of the 2014 Incheon Games with angry messages. There was a controversy when JYJ was dropped from the list of performers for the opening ceremonies. I guess it's all settled now. The trio was able to perform, the theme song was sung, and the fans were now happy. A k-pop war was averted. Ha-ha-ha!

Although I only caught the last few minutes, they were amusing. While the last torchbearer stood there at the rafters waiting for his cue, the crowd seated around him turned out to be a flash mob; they were not your regular ticket holders. At first, I thought that section was for special ticket holders because they all looked like college students. An ordinary crowd would be composed of kids, parents or couples; that crowd was all youngsters in their 20's. 

So, when JYJ went on to sing another song, they stood up and danced on the spot, while Lee Hyung-Taik looked like the wrong member who didn't go to the rehearsal. As the flash mob was doing their thing, he remained standing while waving. I realized though that perhaps not dancing along with the crowd was a good idea. 

Since he was holding the lighted torch on his right hand, moving one's body to the upbeat song of JYJ might cause him to prematurely light, not the cauldron, but some ticket holder. Ha-ha-ha! 

Everybody knew that the one who would light the flames was going to be Lee Young-ae, the lead actress from the Jewel In The Palace drama. It was all over the news last week. But I wonder why the organizers chose her. Maybe because the committee members were her fans? She's a cook in the drama, not an athlete. And I also wondered why she was wearing sweat bands that night even though lighting the cauldron wasn't exactly a perspiring task. Maybe standing next to the flames would cause one to sweat? Since the organizing committee was trying to cut down the budget for the whole thing, I understood why she was just wearing a white tee and skirt looking like she just got out of her house and was heading to E-Mart. I guess it was more expensive to have her wear a colorful Korean hanbok, an image that would remind the audience in Korea and all of Asia of the character in the drama that made her really famous.

Well, I guess the organizers at Incheon wanted to capitalize on the Korean wave, peppering the opening ceremonies with K-pop performances and K-drama personalities. 

          (I couldn't find the description of this installation on the Asian Games website. I'm calling it the 'Full Moon'.)

But before I look forward to the closing ceremonies, I was lucky to be at the main stadium of the 2014 Asian Games the day after the opening ceremonies. Thanks to the Korea Tourism Organization for bringing us there. We were also able to watch the qualifying rounds of sepak-takraw, which I will blog about later.

At the grounds around the main stadium, I saw the 45 flagpoles of the participating Asian countries, which reminded me of the parade of nations that I missed on TV! So, I decided that this was going to be the first blog about my visit to the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon.

Last Sunday, at a party with my fellow Filipino friends, we had a guessing game related to these Asian Games. The person who could identify correctly the most Asian flags would win. So, even before I chanced upon the long line of these flagpoles at the grounds this afternoon, I already did my homework, so to speak. I could identify these countries. Well, most of them at least. Ha-ha-ha!

And under the Saturday afternoon sun, these flags were waving with the breezes from the sea west of the main stadium, much like as they were when they entered the main stadium the night before. 

As I was taking photographs of the flags, I noticed that red was a common national color. Though the meaning of a color differs from each culture, having the color red on a flag just speaks of bravery, pride and life. 

So, if you also missed the opening ceremonies, you can swing by the main stadium of the 2014 Incheon Games and see for yourself the 45 national colors of the participating Asian countries. 

(I want one, too!)

Though these flags represent the different cultures of Asia, they have gathered in one place in the name of sports, friendship and mutual understanding.

So, good luck to all the athletes, especially, to the Philippine athletes and the Smart Gilas Basketball team.

And to quote President Park Geun-Hye...

"I declare open the 17th Asian Games."
(The Philippine flag with the Hong Kong flag on the left and the Palestine flag on the right)

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