Crowds began arriving at Bukit Jalil stadium as early as 12pm for the opening ceremony of the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (19 August), despite the event having been scheduled to begin only at 8pm.
The opening ceremony was one of the earliest events to sell out when tickets were released. About 85,000 spectators were expected to attend the event, which marked the official opening of the biennial multi-sport event that stretches from 19 to 30 August.
A total of 4,900 athletes from around the region will compete in 38 sports with 404 gold medals on offer.
Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said during the opening ceremony that the SEA Games played a significant role in using sports to unite and bring out the best in Asean athletes.
Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor, along with Malaysia’s king, Sultan Muhammad V, and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were present at the opening ceremony.
“Through the games we create excitement, we forge memories and we leave a legacy of friendship and sportsmanship.
“And we have all come a long way. Our countries are not only fast developing but we now have Olympic and World champions.
“These and future champions were and will be born at the Southeast Asian Games. For many of them the Sea Games will remain special, because this is where it all begun,” said Khairy.
Kuala Lumpur is hosting the Games after a 16-year break. The host nation has set a target of 111 gold medals for its athletes in the hopes of topping the medal table. Ice hockey, ice skating, cricket and indoor hockey are making their debut in this edition of the Games.