By Megiza Asmail
JAKARTA (AA) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo officially declared the 2018 Asian Games open on Saturday night with thousands of athletes representing 45 countries taking part in the mega event at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium.
In his speech, Widodo said the Asian Games are an opportunity to show the unity of all of Asia.
"We feel honored to have special guests from 45 countries. During the 18th Asian Games, we, Asian nations, want to show to the world that we are brothers, we are united and we want to achieve accomplishments. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, I declared the 18th Asian Games open," Jokowi said.
A total of 12,500 fireworks announced the inauguration of the 2018 Asian Games.
Indonesia Asian Games Organising Committee (INASGOC) President Erick Thohir also said the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia was also an opportunity to show the world that a country with the world's largest Muslim population could live in harmony despite diversity.
"Bhineka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity] is our national motto. Indonesia believes that Asia is an amazing continent. Asia has the most ethnic groups in the world. Demographic diversity makes Asia dynamic and competitive. We are here to celebrate our diversity and differences," Thohir said.
The opening ceremony for the games began with tens of thousands of Saman dancers performing with Gayonese poetic language. Soon after, the athletes taking part marched into the stadium.
The national team of Afghanistan entered first, while a representative from Indonesia with a golden Garuda costume accompanied each team of participating countries.
During the parade, the delegations of the South and North Koreas entered hand in hand. The two countries marched and waved the unification flag together.
Asian Olympic Council (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahda Al Sabah was also seen giving a sign of respect when Kuwaiti athletes passed by him.
Kuwaiti athletes were finally able to participate in the 2018 Asian Games under their own flag after a three-year ban imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ended.
The Kuwaiti Olympic Committee (KOC) had been suspended since October 2015. The IOC had accused the KOC of violating rules by allowing government interference during the selection process of the organization.
The 2015-ban is the second suspension for Kuwait. Previously, the country had been given the similar sanctions in 2010, but it was revoked two years later just before the London Olympics.
By Megiza Asmail