Date : 02 Sep 2018
Jakarta, Indonesia, September 2, 2018: Terima Kasih Indonesia! Hello Hangzhou! A President, a Sheikh and a technology tycoon all came together with a supporting cast of thousands including athletes and volunteers as the curtain fell at the 18th Asian Games on Sunday night.
A colourful closing ceremony, where tradition mixed with modern technology, ended the Games which was described as “an historical success” by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia, before he declared the two-week showpiece closed.
Even Mother Nature cried. After two weeks of perfect weather, it rained during an emotional farewell which began with a military tattoo and ended in a musical hit parade with local stars as well as South Korean boy bands iKON and Super Junior rocking the Gelora Bung Karno main stadium.
“It is raining because we are very sad today that we must leave your beautiful country,” Sheik Ahmad said, bringing out “ooohhs” from the full house appreciative of the gracious words from their illustrious visitor.
Sheikh Ahmad took the opportunity to remind another VVIP in the presidential box, Dr. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, that Jakarta was capable of hosting the 2032 Olympics, as had been suggested by President Joko Widodo to Bach.
“Jakarta has the capability to host any major international Games,” Sheikh Ahmad said to the wild cheers of appreciation from the crowd. His comment had earlier been echoed by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla in his opening address.
Without stepping into the stadium, President Jokowi stole the show – from far away Lombok where he was watching the closing ceremony in the company of victims of the recent earthquake.
In a recorded message, Jokowi tugged on the heartstrings of his fellow-countrymen as well as visitors asking everyone to “send your thoughts and prayers as it will help the people of Lombok bounce back”.
After 15 highly competitive days of sporting extravaganza, the athletes from the 45 countries and regions looked fully relaxed and in the mood to party as they walked into the stadium following Team Indonesia, who finished fourth in the medal standings with 31 golds - far surpassing their pre-Games target of 16 and a top-10 finish.
“It is an exceptional achievement and one that has surpassed all our expectations,” Jokowi said.
China once again dominated the Games, winning 132 gold medals in an overall total of 289. A total of six world records, 18 Asian records and 86 Asian Games records were set.
Jokowi, who had stolen the show in the opening ceremony with his ‘staged’ entry on a motorbike into the stadium, might have found a worthy successor to pass the torch to as Hangzhou’s native son Jack Ma, billionaire business magnate and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, made an appearance during the presentation of the 2022 Asian Games host city.
“I’m Jack Ma,” he introduced himself as the crowd went crazy. “I welcome you to Hangzhou”. He was accompanied by Chinese swimming star Sun Yang.
A three-part flag handover ceremony resulted in the Asian Games symbols being presented to Gou Zhongwen, Chinese Olympic Committee President, and the Mayor of Hangzhou, Mr. Xu Liyi.
“Terima Kasih to the people of Jakarta. Terima Kasih to the people of Palembang and Indonesia,” thanked Sheikh Ahmad who also acknowledged Indonesian President Joko Widodo – the country’s number one fan - as well as congratulating Mr. Erick Thohir, the President of the Indonesian Olympic Committee and President of the Indonesian Asian Games Organising Committee, for putting on a remarkable show.
Sheikh Ahmad also had a special word of praise to the 13,000 volunteers whom he described as the “perfect ambassadors for the country” and also thanked the 11,000 media for taking the Asian Games to the world.
As the fireworks sporadically lit up the night sky, all that was left were the memories. Terima Kasih Indonesia.
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