Rainy Jakarta hands over baton | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, September 03, 2018

Rainy Jakarta hands over baton

For the past three weeks, Central Jakarta and the surrounding areas hardly saw a single drop of rainfall.

But yesterday, the day of the closing ceremony, the skies turned grey in the afternoon, and before the time for the closing ceremony to kick off, it was raining buckets all over. The Gelora Bung Karno Complex -- the largest cluster of venues of the 18th Asian Games and the festive fan zones -- bore the full brunt of the unexpected intervention from above.

The giant screens in the fan zones, where live music was played and the events of the closing ceremony were scheduled to be relayed, were wrapped up as people took cover. Those with tickets hurried inside stadium and those without, inside nearby shops.

A large number of journalists, who were working inside the main media centre some 15 minutes away from the main venue had to stay back while the more adventurous ones set out on foot, braving the rain with cardboards draped over the head.

The rain, though, hardly dampened the spirit of the festive people, the organisers, the dignitaries and the performers.

As the rain slowly relented, the athletes paraded the venue before the dignitaries, including the Indonesian president, vice-president and the president of Olympic Council of Asia, delivered their speeches. The flag of the OCA and the torch of the Games were handed over to the Chinese NOC president and the mayor of Hangzhou, the host city of the 2022 edition.

There were performances from artists from across Asia, most notably a couple of K-pop bands, artists from India and of course the catchy theme songs of the 2018 Asian Games. There was a guest appearance from Hangzhou native Jack Ma, followed by all the festivity that has come to be known as integral parts of closing ceremonies.

Although the opening ceremony highlighted Indonesian culture, the closing presented a party atmosphere for the athletes, officials and spectators to say goodbye to the hosts.

Indonesia was not supposed to host the Asian Games this time. They were handed the responsibilities only after the initial bidding winners Vietnam opted out. Time was a challenge as there were concerns regarding pollution, limited resources and a lack of proper infrastructure. These Games perhaps cannot be compared to ones hosted by the Chinese or Koreans or the Japanese.

However, the hosts, with their hospitality and a will to prove their worth, have certainly earned the plaudits of all and sundry.

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