~ Five-Time world champion Boxer MC Mary Kom tips off the relay ~
~ The flame will travel across 54 cities and 18 provinces ending in Jakarta on the Games’ Opening Day on 18th August ~
The 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 Torch Relay commenced from the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium with 31 athletes bearing the Torch including Indonesian badminton legend Susi Susanti, the Torch Ambassador from Indonesia. The 2018 edition of the quadrennial event will be held from 18 August – 2 September 2018 in the cities of Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.
The Torch Relay was preceded by the Torch Lighting ceremony where the Asian Games flame was ceremoniously lit by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Mr. Rajeev Mehta and President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra in the presence of DG-SAI Ms. Neelam Kapur, Secretary Sports (GOI) Mr. Rahul Bhatnagar, OCA Honorary Life Vice-Presidents Mr. Wei Jizhong& Raja Randhir Singh and Indonesia Asian Games Organising Committee (INASGOC) Chairman Mr. Erick Thohir.
The lit flame was then handed to Susi Susanti who in turn gave it five-time world champion Boxer and Member of Parliament MC Mary Kom to tip off the Torch Relay. After Mary Kom, the torch was passed to Indian Men’s Hockey team Captain PR Sreejesh and was further received by Shooter Jitu Rai, Boxer Sarita Devi, Archer Jayanta Talukdar, Paddler Sharath Kamal, Hockey players Sardar Singh & SV Sunil, Kabbadi players Anoop Kumar & Ajay Thakur among other top athletes. The relay moved along the historical Rajpath to iconic India Gate before coming back to the stadium with India’s Table Tennis star Manika Batra and Susi Susanti.
Welcoming the Torch Relay IOA President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra said, “Today we are here not just to mark the beginning of the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018, but also to commemorate the momentous occasion when the first Asian Games opened at this hallowed venue in the year 1951.”
IOA Secretary General, Mr. Rajeev Mehta, also expressed his delight, “It was an honour for IOA to become hosts for the beginning of Asian Games 2018 Torch Relay. The Games is a showpiece sporting event of Asia and the fact that it all began here in Delhi is a matter of great pride for us.”
Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) Chairman, Mr. Erick Thohir said, “With 11920 athletes participating, the Asian Games is only growing. We want to develop the economy across other islands and hosting it in these two cities (Jakarta and Palembang) gives us a chance to create balance and jobs too.”
The Torch Relay that started from the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium has a historical significance as this was the very venue where the first edition of Asian Games was held in 1951. The flame will be transferred to Indonesia, where it will be merged with a sacred flame from Merapen, Central Java, at the ancient Hindu temple of Prambanan on July 18. The flame in its 18,000-km journey will go through 54 cities in 18 provinces across the archipelago to the Opening Ceremony in Jakarta on August 18.