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China's Xi declares biggest-ever Asian Games open

Performers take part in the opening ceremony of the Asian Games
— Hangzhou (China) (AFP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the 19th Asian Games in a colourful ceremony in Hangzhou on Saturday, launching a two-week sporting extravaganza that boasts more athletes than the Olympics.

After being delayed by a year because of China's now-abandoned zero-Covid policy, more than 12,000 competitors from 45 nations and territories will battle it out in 40 sports.

In front of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other visiting leaders, Xi officially opened the Games at the 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic stadium, also known as "the Big Lotus".

Xi was given a rapturous reception by spectators waving mini Chinese flags.

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