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17th Asian Games begin with dazzling opening ceremony

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Incheon (Sept 19, 2014): Pop sensation Psy was the star attraction as a dazzling opening ceremony, showcasing the glorious past and modern-day South Korea in a grand spectacle, launched the 17th Asian Games here on Friday.

The world's second-biggest multi-sports spectacle after the Olympic Games, that will see over 13000 competitors from 45 countries and regions vying for glory, was kickstarted with singing, dancing, besides the expected fanfare and fireworks.

The Games were declared open by South Korean President Park Geun-Hye with the words "I declare open the 17th Asian Games," before celebrated actress Lee Young-ae lit up the flame resembling a fountain of cascading water.

As Lee lighted the cauldron, dazzling fireworks lit up the evening sky.

The competing teams marched into the stadium in the final act of the evening. The Indian athletes trooped in after Iran with hockey skipper Sardar Singh leading out the smartly-dressed contingent.

The Indians were attired in black blazers with the women athletes dressed in blue sarees. The smiling athletes walked in waving the tri-colour. India have sent a nearly 700-strong contingent for the event and will take part in 28 disciplines.

The overriding theme of the opening was the unity of Asia and consequently the cultural show comprised four parts: Asia a long time ago; Asia connected through sea routes; Asia becoming family and friends; and One Asia, the future we meet today.

As is the custom the ceremony was divided into the informal and formal parts.

The event began with a welcoming performance, lasting close to 80 minutes, to greet the spectators at the 60,000-capacity stadium that was filled to the brim.

It included a cultural heritage performance of Pungmul Play, a performance of a cheering squad, a congratulatory video of celebrities, and K-Pop boy group EXO's performance to get the spectators revving up for the main event.

The session was divided into three parts -- "Incheon, the magnet of dreams," "Incheon, where all of us become friends," and "Tomorrow, dreamed by all of us."

A display of Korea's traditional drums and cymbal-type instruments before emcees Kim Sung-ju and Youn Soo-young came on stage.