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19th Asian Games draw to conclusion with ceremony celebrating memories of Hangzhou

Oct. 9, 2023 - 09:49 By Yonhap

The closing ceremony of the 19th Asian Games takes place at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday. (Yonhap)

HANGZHOU (Yonhap) -- The 19th Asian Games ended Sunday with a celebration of the memories created over the past two weeks in the Chinese host city of Hangzhou.

With nearly 12,000 athletes from 45 nations in action, this was the largest-ever edition of the Asian Games, which began in 1951. These competitors vied for 481 gold medals in 61 disciplines in 40 sports.

The Hangzhou Asiad was initially set for September 2022 but was postponed by a year due to lingering COVID-19 concerns.

China made it worth the wait for its supporters, as the host nation scooped up 201 gold medals and 383 medals overall to easily top the medal table once again.

South Korea, represented by its largest-ever Asiad delegation of 1,140 athletes and officials, finished in third place in the medal table with 42 gold medals, 59 silver medals and 89 bronze medals. Japan held off South Korea for second place for the second consecutive Asiad with 52 gold medals.

North Korea, in its first appearance at an international multisport event since the 2018 Asian Games, ranked 10th with 11 gold medals.

South Korea won its first gold medal in Hangzhou in its traditional martial art of taekwondo on Sept. 24, and the country's last gold medal came from men's football Saturday night.

Continuing the eco-friendly and high-tech theme of the competition, the closing ceremony featured the first digital turf in Asian Games history, embedded with LED lights.

The ceremony highlighted athletic feats and memorable moments over the course of the competition, and celebrated a convergence of sports and culture.

The streamlined ceremony, without the kind of pomposity that often defines these events, ran for just over an hour.

The next Asian Games will take place in 2026 in Aichi Prefecture and its capital Nagoya in Japan. It will be the third Asiad in Japan, after the 1958 event in Tokyo and the 1994 event in Hiroshima.