SEA Games: Dazzling display of lights, colors at opening ceremonies
KUALA LUMPUR — A hodgepodge of lights and colors, and stunning visual displays welcomed thousands of athletes and guests across the region in the opening ceremonies of the 29th Southeast Asian Games at Bukit Jalil National Stadium here Saturday.
Performers from the host country wearing colorful costumes showcased dazzling routines and synchronized acts, along with dancing LED lights in the two-hour-long ceremony boasting Malaysia’s rich culture, a display that delighted almost 5,000 competing athletes from 11 member nations.
Delegates from Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam and Malaysia marched into the stadium before a roaring crowd to officially begin the two-week multisport event where about 400 gold medals are at stake in 38 sports.
The almost 500-strong contingent of Filipino athletes was the second country to enter the stadium, donning a blue top and white pants. The Filipino delegates were led by this edition’s flagbearer, Kirstie Elaine Alora, a taekwondo jin and 2016 Rio Olympics veteran.
The Philippines is looking to surpass the 29-gold-medal output it registered two years ago in Singapore where it finished sixth overall. In an interview, chef de mission Cynthia Carrion said the Philippine Olympic Committee is eyeing at least 50 golds.
Malaysian sports icons also graced the opening ceremonies of the biennial meet, with diver Nur Dhabitah Sabri carrying the torch to light the Games’ cauldron.
Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia’s youth and sports minister, stressed before the jampacked crowd the importance of the SEA Games in today’s generation, saying its role is to develop sports heroes.
“We have come a long way. We now have Olympics and world champions. Future champions will be born in the SEA Games. This is where it all began; that is why the theme is rising together,” Jamaluddin said.
Malaysia’s Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad officially declared the Games open followed by a fireworks display.
This is the sixth time Malaysia is hosting the regional Games after holding the competition in 1965, 1971, 1977, 1989 and 2001.
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