I have waited for this for two years. With so much anticipation and dramas in social media, it all doesn’t matter now as the 29th SEA Games is officially open.
As a sports enthusiast myself, I wouldn’t let this pass. Watching the highest level of competition in South East Asian region is a dream come true to me and watching the opening ceremony is a great start and i think a once in a lifetime experience.
To give you a background, the host for this year’s SEA Games was supposed to be Brunei but they declined and said will not be ready at this time so it was passed on to Malaysia. The Malaysian organising committee did not hesitate to accept the offer as they are well aware that the facilities here are up to standards and with few adjustments, they will be able to host the event successfully. Here we are, fast forward from two years ago after Singapore hosted the last one.
The opening ceremony was held at Bukit Jalil National Stadium with the capacity of 84,000 seats. They did some renovations on the stadium and this was my second time to go there, definitely there were changes.
Getting there so early was a very good idea. I left from where I live at around 2:45pm with the aim to reach by 4:00pm. The show was announced to start around 8pm but the public was urged to come early as traffic jams are expected. Roads leading to the stadium were closed and the only way to go in and out was through public transportation mainly through train and dedicated public buses.
By 5:00pm I was finding my seat inside the stadium. It was free seating so those who were early had the chance to choose seats accordingly. At one point, I tried to sit down from seats on level 2. I noticed that they installed led lights on the back seats on levels 2 and 3 stand. They used it for the show. When I was seated at the 2nd level seats, I noticed that there is no wind coming in as it was all covered at the back and it was hot. So I moved down and found my seat at the bottom level.
There were a lot of empty seats when I arrived so I was doubting that the stadium will be full but I was wrong. After the rain stopped, people flocked the stadium and it was indeed a great turn out.
The ceremony did not start on time as it rained an hour before the expected time to start. When the ceremony officially started, the crowd in the Stadium was pumped up thanks to the DJ who kept the beats going.
The cultural presentations featured cultural diversity in Malaysia showcasing panglipur lara, Chinese, Malay and Indian drum shows, dondang saying, joget and the terinai dance.
It was an evening of fireworks, lights and cultures rising together but the highlight of the evening I should say was the lighting of the huge SEA Games cauldron. It started with the small torch which has been passed around from Singapore to several states in Malaysia. The torch bearers were legends in their own sports from past generations and present. The Games cauldron was so huge as it rose through the stage, then the torch bearer was Malaysian diving star Nur Dhabitah Sabri. She had to be raised up so high to be able to light up the cauldron through the torch. That symbolism in these kind events is so important as it signifies the official start of the overall competition. The cauldron will be kept lighted until the games are over on the 30th of August where a closing ceremony will be held on the same stadium.
Malaysian legends who made history worldwide were part of the ceremony. They were soccer legends Datuk James Wong, Datuk Shukor Salleh and Datuk Santokh Singh, sprinter Datuk Rabuan Pit and bowling star Shalin Zulkifli.
The overall event experience was great. I had high expectations as I love watching opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I know it wouldn’t top any Olympics opening ceremony but at least for the region, it’s at par with the previous SEA Games opening ceremonies.
Right after the ceremony, I knew it will be packed as the only way out was the train station. I wandered at the vicinity near the stadium where food trucks, entertainment and SEA Games merchandises were sold. There were also big tents where the public can enjoy watching live events and some fun stuffs prepared by the organizers.
This event, as any other sporting event shows the power of sports that unite different cultures and races. As this year’s slogan goes, “Rising Together”. It is expected that the games will not only bring out the best in the region but will foster friendship and stronger ties to each participants not only raising the level of sports competitions in the region but uniting the region in general.
There are 400+ gold medals to be won for the 11 participating countries and the 29th South East Asian games is scheduled to end on the 30th of August, a day before Malaysia’s Independence Day celebration.
Well done Malaysian Organizing Committee headed by their Youth and Sports Minister Khairy for putting up a great show.
Do check out the video I took during the opening ceremony. So comment your thoughts on this event below.