President Zardari attends opening ceremony of 16th Asian Games

GUANGZHOU (China): President Asif Ali Zardari was amongst the distinguished leaders and dignitaries who witnessed the spectacular opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games here in Haixingsha Island in capital city of China’s Guangdong province Friday night. President Zardari, who specially flew into Guangzhou to participate in the inaugural ceremony of this mega sporting event on the invitation of Chinese leadership joined the dignitaries at the VIP enclosure along with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.He also had an informal interaction with them and appreciated the grand arrangements made for the grand opening ceremony.

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also witnessed the inaugural ceremony of the 16th Asian Games, being held here from November 12 to 27 – another mega sport event hosted by China after the 2008 Olympics Games.Athletes of 45 countries and regions including Pakistan are participating in the event. Pakistan’s contingent comprises over 200 athletes and players.Other members of the President’s entourage including Chief Minister Gilgit Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, Chairman BOI Saleem Mandviwala and Spokesman to the President Farhatullah Babar were also present to witness the grand opening ceremony.Pakistan and China enjoy close friendly and strategic ties, the seeds of which were sown by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and further promoted during the era of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.China has traditionally been a strong supporter and close ally of Pakistan, with the two supporting each other on various international fora.

Participation of President Zardari in the opening ceremony of Asian Games testifies the importance which Pakistan attaches to its relations with China.President Zardari, who has undertaken six visits of China since he took over as President of Pakistan, earlier also held bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.The two leaders agreed continuing mutual cooperation in diverse fields and further strengthening their already existing strategic relationship for the benefit of two countries.Wrestler Azhar Hussain, who bagged one gold and a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games in India last month, carried the national flag and lead the Pakistani contingent during the opening ceremony.Hussain earned country’s first gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in the freestyle 55 kg category. He also seized a silver medal in the Greco-Roman style wrestling.Pakistan will contest Asian Games in 17 disciplines including baseball, snooker, boxing, hockey, judo, kabaddi, karate, sailing, shooting, squash, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling, wushu, cricket (men and women) and football.

A total of 476 events in 42 sports will be contested by athletes in the 2010 Asian Games also known as the XVI Asiad, making it the largest event in history of the Games. 2010.Guangzhou is the second city in China to host the Games after Beijing in 1990.The 2010 Asian Games’ official emblem was unveiled at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall on November 26, 2006. It is a stylized goat, which, in Chinese tradition, is a blessing and brings people luck.It is also a representative symbol of the host city Guangzhou, which is called the “City of Rams” or “City of the Five Rams”.  Five sporty rams, dubbed “Le Yangyang,” served as the mascots of the Games. It was unveiled on April 28, 2008 at Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention and Exhibition Center.Total cost of staging the Asian Games and Asian Para Games is about RMB 122.6 billion ($17 billion), as revealed by Mayor of Guangzhou in a press conference on October 13, 2010 – App