The spirit behind the AsiadThe 17th Asian Games open today in Incheon. The Asiad, which will continue for 16 days until Oct. 4, is an international sports festival to encourage harmony among Asians through athletic competition. The theme of the opening ceremony choreographed by renowned Korean movie director Im Kwon-taek at the main stadium - “Dream of 4.5 billion people, One Asia” - clearly reflects the goal of the sports contest in Incheon.
More than 15,000 athletes and delegates from 45 nations across the Asian continent will participate in the sports gala, which will play out in 36 sports and 439 competitions. That’s a remarkable growth compared to the first Asian Games in New Delhi in 1951, when only 489 athletes competed in six sports and 57 games.
What’s most meaningful is not the size of the games but the spirit of harmony the Incheon Asiad seeks to achieve. Above all, the Incheon Games are an Asiad in which the entire 45 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia participate, which also includes North Korea. Even Iraq and Afghanistan, which are undergoing insurgencies and serious internal conflicts, are joining in the games. We sincerely welcome their participation, because the spirit of the Incheon games to promote peace in Asia through participation and harmony will be embodied by the games. Another pride of the games comes from the fact that the Incheon Asiad has obtained certification from the International Standards Organization (ISO) for excellence in creating an eco-friendly environment. This was the second such certification after the 2012 London Olympics.
What attracts our special attention is the organizing committee’s endeavor to accomplish a balanced development of sports in Asia by running the “Vision 2014 Program,” which is aimed at educating and training athletes and sports leaders from countries with weak sporting cultures, which have failed to win any medals in Asian Games. That’s a commitment Incheon made when it announced its bid to host the Asian Games several years ago.
Korea aims to achieve second place in the games for the fifth time in a row with more than 90 gold medals following sports powerhouse China, which aims to be first for the ninth consecutive time. We hope Team Korea - and sports minors that took part in the Vision 2014 Program - successfully achieve their goals. We are convinced that the Incheon Asian Games will provide a precious opportunity to promote harmony and mutual understanding befitting the games’ slogan of “Wave of Peace, Future of Asia.”
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 19, Page 38