INCHEON, Korea– Psy was there alright, providing the party atmosphere that capped the opening ceremonies for the 17th Asian Games late Friday, but the celebration ended with complaints from majority of the participants who rued the inexperience of the organizers in handling sporting events this big.
The opening program focused on the culture of Incheon, highlighted by videos, songs and dance. It was made for television with the organizers implementing an embargo on photographs until after the last fireworks.
Psy, the world famous Korean rap artist who scored world hit songs “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman,” was the main performer in the program and he did not disappoint. Gangnam is a district south of the Han river in Seoul to which one of his hit songs was named after.
The athletes and some officials rushed to the stage in his presence. His performance electrified the crowd which was earlier equally struck by the surprise appearance of Lee Young-ae, main star of the hit Koreanovela “Jewel in the Palace” when Dae Jang Geum (The Great Jang Geum), lit the Incheon Asiad flame.
Her choice as final torch bearer to set the cauldron aflame was controversial as Lee has no sporting background, but organizers had weathered many other controversies leading to their hosting of the Games.
But while it looked nice on TV, participants were made to walk and got lost tracking their buses which were to take them back to the Athletes’ Village.
Athletes and officials, some of them already aging, were made to walk for nearly an hour looking for whatever available transport that could take them back to the Athletes’ Village.
No spectator shuttles were provided, contributing to the traffic of people and vehicles when the gates were opened for egress.
Other delegates have checked in at the Athletes Village two hours past midnight.
The dining hall then became chaotic with the influx of famished delegates. Food at one point ran out to the disgust of many hungry athletes.
Veteran sports officials who have attended the previous Asiads hosted by Korea could not help but compare the previous successes of Seoul in 1986 and Busan in 2002.
Only the city of Incheon is involved in running the affairs of the Games.
The National Olympic Committee of Korea and the national government are not part of the Games.
Incheon is a hotbed of political opposition in this country.