Welcome to the live coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. A record 9,704 athletes will vie for 3,989 medals, off 476 events
17:49: The petals give way to 180 girls in neon green umbrella dresses, who form a pulsating star in the water
17:47: Brilliant chorepgraphy. Children, 100 of them, flow out of the flower with lanterns in their little hands. The children dance on the water.
17:45: 'Water of the Earth', the song now being performed. Petals of the Hero tree float into the water, becoming flowers to represent the participating countries. The flowers unfurl and close, unfurl and close. They all come together.
17:43: Brilliant effects, it looks like the leaf is held up by a fountain.
17:37: A children's song, "Heavy Rainfall" is played, to show how the cities emerged. A young boy seated on a shining leaf floats in, pours water into the river, raising 38 river goddesses who dance on the water.
17:37: The National Anthem is played. The Opening Ceremony begins
17:35: A crowd of over a 100,000 clap as the Chinese National flag is paraded. Amazing, there are actually volunteers to help keep the audience in rhythm
For those who came in late, this time around, you get to pitch in with your opinions. Write to email@example.com and you might find your comments and thoughts in this space.
17:33: LED monitors, biggest in the world, unfurl, with icons of the games to be played, and the Asian Games 2010 logo
17:32: The countdown for the Opening Ceremony begins, with pyrotechnics on the 600-metre tall TV tower.
17:30: Back to the Citizen's Plaza. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao enters, takes his place among the people, to watch the event unfold on 44 boats on the spectacular Pearl River.
17:28: And Guangzhou was battle-ready way ahead of D-Day. Click here to find out how they did it.
17:26: We're hearing that Guangzhou even outspent Beijing for tonight's festivities. And that's no small feat. The costs are, needless to say, kept closely guarded, but a source in Guangzhou tells us the city spent somewhere near $ 200 million on the Opening Ceremony alone. That's twice as much Beijing spent!
17: 22: Here's what Ananth Krishnan, our special correspondent from Beijing, tells us - All eyes are on Guangzhou. There's some mild anxiety here as well – It's fair to say most expect the Opening Ceremony tonight.
17: 19: The run-up to the Opening Ceremony has been nearly cinematic. Rehearsals that offered sneak peeks into the scale of the ceremony, and airtight secrets about the 'mystery lighting' and the 'lighting of the cauldron'
17:15: And here we are, at Guangzhou. Drifting away from tradition in style, the entire Opening Ceremony will take place outside the venue, on an island on the Pearl River, making water as well as land a part of the stage for this event
A very good evening to you all. Another grand sporting event, the sixteenth Asiad is set to begin today. Sports fans who have followed our coverage of the Commonwealth Games 2010, can continue to access the cream of sporting action from the Asian Games 2010 page.
There's more. This time around, you get to pitch in with your opinions. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might find your comments and thoughts in this space.
If the stellar Opening ceremony of the Olympics two years ago is anything to go by, then Guangzhou is about to tax my store of superlatives this evening. Here's a sneak peak.
The Commonwealth Games 2010 had its share of lesser known events like lawn Bowls. The 16th Asian Games has some surprises of its own this season, including a some new entrants. Xingqu for instance. It's a Chinese version of chess.
Wushu is another sport the average sports buff might not be up to scratch on. According to the official Asian Games website, Wushu includes long boxing, southern-style boxing, taiji boxing, short weapon play, long weapon play and sanshou, which made its Asian Games debut in 11th Asian Games, Beijing, in 1990.