Hangzhou Asian Games begin with dazzling opening ceremony
China's President Xi Jinping opened the Covid-delayed 19th Asian Games in the Eastern city of Hangzhou during a spectacular and at times raucous ceremony on Saturday, which organizers hope will lift the mood in a nation struggling with an economic slump.
Spectators in the city's 80,000-capacity stadium let out a huge roar as Xi was introduced and walked in to sit with visiting dignitaries including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Syria President Bashar al-Assad.
In an often spellbinding ceremony intended to burnish Hangzhou's status as one of China's centres of technology and creativity, dozens of balletic dancers hovered above a digitally projected lake in the wake of a flotilla of sailboards.
In a modern take on the traditional lighting of the cauldron, a huge, digitally animated torchbearer "ran" the length of the stadium before settling to loom above the actual torch-bearer, China's Olympic champion swimmer Wang Shun.
In synch, the pair lit a huge, multi-pronged cauldron, prompting another bout of cheering and, soon after, a digital firework display.