New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) The torch relay for the 2018 Asian Games commenced at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Sunday with 31 athletes, including Indonesian badminton legend Susi Susanti, bearing the torch .
The 2018 edition of the quadrennial event will be held from August 18 to September 2 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 Rajeev Mehta and President Narinder Batra.
The flame was then handed to Susanti who in turn gave it to five-time world champion boxer M.C. Mary Kom to tip off the torch relay. After Mary Kom, the torch was passed to Indian men’s hockey team captain P.R. Sreejesh and was further received by ace shooter Jitu Rai, boxer Sarita Devi, archer Jayanta Talukdar, paddler Sharath Kamal, hockey players Sardar Singh and S.V. Sunil, kabbadi players Anoop Kumar and Ajay Thakur among others.
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 Susanti.
“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,” Batra said in a statement.
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 the 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.
During its 18,000 km journey, the flame will go through 54 cities in 18 provinces across Indonesia to the opening ceremony in Jakarta on August 18.