By Nick Butler in Incheon
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Goodbye! (작별 인사)
22:00 From Incheon however, it's time to say goodbye as we finish on the insidethegames live blog for a little while. The blog will be back up and running soon. Thanks from me, as well as from my already-departed colleagues Paul Osborne and Duncan Mackay, to everyone who read, tweeted and commented throughout the last 16 days, and I hope you enjoyed the Games like we, when all things are said and done, definitely did.
21:58 I will leave you with the final medals table of Incheon 2014, as China reiterate their continental hegemony, even though the standard is growing, with nations like Kazakhstan and Qatar getting stronger and stronger... It is great to see 37 of the 45 Asian NOCs represented on the table as well.
Check out our Incheon 2014 live blogs and news section for more coverage, as well as our photo galleries.
21:57 My personal highlights? The baseball, table tennis and cricket, three of the only sports that I managed to see., From a story-wise point of view, I always enjoy a good doping scandal, and Sheikh Ahmad's strong words on cricket earlier were very entertaining to listen to (see our article here). But seemingly every night the sport provided some great story, be it a North Korean world record, or a first ever gold for Cambodia, there always seemed to be something.
And that was another strength of these Games.
21:53 There Games maybe haven't perfect, with empty seats, organisational mishaps, and doping, judging and headgear-related controversies. But there have been many highlights. As I wrote in my blog on the Games a few days ago, there has been a unique quirkiness that I haven't seen anywhere else, and have very much enjoyed: from wins via a coin toss, to the top three across the line being disqualified, via the wonders of kabaddi, sepak takraw and bowling.
The Games certainly haven't helped foster peace and harmony on the continent in a general sense, but they have helped show, once again, how people can come together through sport. That glorious night two days ago, when India were playing Pakistan at hockey at the same time North and South Korea crossed paths in football, were great examples of this.
And after tonight, I think we can all look forward to Jakarta 2018 as well.
21:48 I just made the mistake of nipping to the toilet as everyone left, and found myself stuck in a stampede of people heading in the opposite direction here, which wasn't very intelligent. And on that note, it is clearly time to shut up shop here on the insidethegames live blog, for a couple of months or so, I imagine.
Closing Ceremony verdict?
21:40 Well...what did you think? There were no stand out moments from the Ceremony tonight, like the cheer for the North Koreans or "Gangnam Style"... But, from beginning to end, it was a pretty solid effort, I thought.
A good blend of traditional and modern Korea, with the Jakarta 2018 section a real highlight. It certainly compared favourably with the Closing Ceremonies I have seen in Sochi and Nanjing so far this year. And it was better than the Commonwealth Games one in Glasgow.
I think there will be criticism for the lack of reference to Incheon itself, something the organisers have admitted they haven't done as well as they could. But, the most poignant aspect, of course, was the presence of the high level North Korean delegation here tonight.
21:30 With a final flurry of fireworks, drum rolls and dance moves, the Closing Ceremony of Incheon 2014 is over. And with it, the Asian Games are over for another four years.
K-Pop finale of Closing Ceremony
21:24 They are wearing very bizarre gold jackets as they jabber away to the crowd in between songs. Are they going to sign off with a big bang I wonder? Oh wait, they've switched to English! "Everybody stand up," they proclaim.
Fireworks are going up outside as Big Bang throw some flamboyant dance moves to open their song "Fantastic baby". One group of athletes, I think the Cambodians, are particularly enjoying this. They seem to be doing a dance move that involves running around their National Flag.
And another journalist, a male one this time, is out of his seat in front of me, moving cautiously to the beat as if he is almost ashamed to do so...
21:18 More K-Pop to celebrate the end of the Games. Boy band Big bang are playing their hit "Hands up", the first of three songs they will play tonight. The athletes don't seem quite as excited by this, but a couple of journalists in front of me are out of their seat and boogieing away. Female journalists, I feel the need to add...I think they are Big Bang's target audience somehow.,,
21:15 And the Incheon 2014 Flame is extinguished! There is actually a collective groan from the crowd as it goes out... And then polite applause at the end.
Looking ahead to Jakarta 2018
21:12 The Jakarta section has all taken place on the home straight of the track, with athletes still cluttering the central section.
21:08 I have to say, this Jakarta 2018 section is excellent! It starts with a "Ronggeng Dance", a typical dance of the Betawi people themed "The Colours of Jakarta". It is billed as a "merry dance of the youth", intertwined with highly dynamic martial arts movements.
It is followed by dance of Palembang Darussalam in the theme "The Spirit of South Sumatra". It is performed with a touch of typically "energetic and charming" Malay dance to the accompaniment of Rampak Nusantara drums.
Lots of fascinating costumes, whirling dancers, and vibrant music.
21:02 Indonesia, incidentally, are one of only a few nations to have competed in all 17 editions of the Asian Games, along with India, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Korea were meant to participate in the first one in 1951, only to pull out because of the Korean War.
20:59 We get a video telling us all about the economic and sporting attractions of Indonesia, with a very Americanised voice-over. I was just about to write that it would be a little much to expect a proper Jakarta 2018 section, as we see in Olympic Closing Ceremonies, since they were only officially awarded the Games two weeks ago.
But wait, this is exactly what is now happening!
20:56 The Asian Games Torch and Flag, as well as the OCA Flag are all passed from Incheon 2014 representatives to the OCA President, and then on the various Indonesian figures, including IOC member Rita Subowo and the Governor of South Sumatra, Alex Noerdin. That is the region where Palambang, a co-host for the event along with Jakarta and South Java, is located.
20:51 The OCA Flag is lowered and then the Indonesian National Anthem is played as the flag of the next host nation is raised. This picture below is of the South Korea and Indonesian Flagbearers, present and future hosts, coming out together in the parade earlier.
Incheon 2014 declared closed!
20:47 Sheikh Ahmad then declares the Incheon 2014 Asian Games closed, and, as tradition dictates, calls for the Asian sports family to gather again in four years time in the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta.
20:45 Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, who presented Hagino with his prize, is now delivering his closing address.
"The Asian Games have come to an end," he says. "It is time to say goodbye to Incheon and goodbye to Korea. Since the Opening Ceremony, we have witnessed some great sports, some spectacular athletes, and have enjoyed their skill and performance. My advice to the athletes is to take what you have learnt here and move onto the next test, the Olympic Games! The OCA will always provide support and help.
"The Asian Games are not just about winning medals. They are about sportsmanship and fairplay, friendship and winning medals. I hope you have many great medals and Incheon 2014 will be remembered as a new and great starting point in your lives."
He then thanks spectators, to rapturous applause, media, sponsors, and, most of all, the volunteers. He concludes his reflections on a seven year "incredible journey" that has made everyone "richer and wiser for the experience". His "deepest gratitude to the city of Incheon" is expressed.
20:40 Kim Young- soo, President of Incheon 2014 delivers his address, praising everyone who has contributed to the Games.
Samsung MVP Award
"I'm honored to win the prestigious Samsung MVP Award. I'm very happy because I had no idea I could win this award at the beginning of the Asian Games. At the 200m freestyle final, I was able to compete alongside great swimmers such as Sun Yang (China) and Park Tae-hwan (Souht Korea) so that as a very exciting and memorable experience for me. Park congratulated me after the 200m freestyle final, and I got the impression that he is admirable not only as an athlete but also as a person. I'd like to thank my coach Mr. Hirai, my family, my teammates, and everyone who has supported me. I'd also like to thank Samsung for sponsoring this award, and everyone who has made the Asian Games possible. It has been a good experience for me, and I will make this into a steppingstone for me to continue on to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games two years from now and also to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics." - Kosuke Hagino speaking earlier after being announced as the winner.
20:36 And, as we may have said earlier, the winner is Japanese swimmer Kosuke Hagino!
20:34 Next up is the Samsung MVP Award. There were eight nominees, and we won't have time to go into too much detail about each one right now, but here is the list...
20:30 The crowd seemed to enjoy that, and so did the athletes. Lots of dancing and, I don't think I really need to even tell you, selfies. There are lots of drums placed around the infield, almost as a border, but the athletes take advantage, some of them drumming away furiously.
20:27 CN Blue might not be quite as big as DJ Psy internationally, but they are a big deal in these parts. The South Korean One Direction?
20:23 What did I say about traditional music. Well, its K-Pop again now, as South Korean group CN BLUE perform. Unsurprisingly, they are delivering a "message of peace, harmony and
mutual-exchanges through 'music'", we are told.
In reality, they are playing their hit songs "I'm sorry" and "Can't stop".
20:21 And now...
20:17 The athletes and volunteers have now grouped in the centre of the stadium. This protracted entrance of everyone who has contributed to these Games is a real strength, in my opinion...
20:12 A big Iranian team, and then a much smaller Cambodian one. Taekwondo player Sorn Seavmey won the Southeast Asian nation's first ever Asian Games gold medal yesterday!
And then the volunteers themselves parade. Another nice touch. I wouldn't say the volunteers have been quite a central a part of these Games, at least from my perspective, as they were in Nanjing at the Summer Youth Olympic Games. But almost without exception, they have been enthusiastic and helpful.
"You are the person who has greater confidence in me than myself,
You are the person who extends your hands to raise me up,
You are the person who has prayed for me than myself,
You are the person who has shown me a magic of a life sacrificing all for your dream,
You are the person who has always called me as a winner
You are the person who has always supported me behind by back,
Today, the spotlight is on you!"
"Even though they might be principle figures ensuring such a wonderful moment, they have never been in the spot-light," we are told. "This is the story of grateful people behind the scenes, who have loved athletes more than athletes by themselves".
20:05 For the most part, the crowd have been engaging in lots of gentle flagwaving and hand-clapping. But they are on their feet when the South Koreans come past, unsurprisingly.
Members of the Chinese team run off the track to take some selfies with volunteers, that is a nice touch, and then another big cheer as a mammoth Japanese delegation appear. Good to see, considering recent tension between South Korea and Japan.
19:02 A nice cheer as the Syrian team comes out, while there is a lot of excited waving from the Singaporean delegation as they come out. A solid Games for Singapore, with five gold medals, three in sailing, one in bowling and one in swimmer, for new sensation Joseph Schooling.
And here come South Korea...
19:58 The Flagbearers are followed by the athletes themselves. Messages congratulating them for "overcoming challenges" and "living up to expectations", are accompanying their entry. Lots of selfies are being taken, especially by the Kazakh team coming past now, but no selfie sticks, at least as far as I can see...
19:53 Meanwhile, the parade of Flagbearers has begun. Two bearers, representing two nations, are coming out together as a percussion performance, by Serotonin Drum Club, plays.
Placard bears for each of the 45 participating nations enter into the ground while wearing costumes designed based on the motif of national flower, or equivalent symbol, of each nation. So the falcon - a symbolic bird - is being used for the United Arab Emirates.
This free entry of nations - they are not coming out in any particular order - along with volunteers symbolises the theme of the Asian Games, we are told. This is the theme of "One Asia" again, beyond the boundaries of nationalities, religions and ideologies.
19:49 Lots of pictures of the North Korean delegation circling around. They have just been greeted by the OCA President. Sheikh Ahmad spoke in detail earlier about how happy he was that North Korea has been able to attend these Games, and how well they have done once here.
A total of 11 gold medals here in Incheon for North Korea, in gymnastics, weightlifting, shooting, boxing and football, leaving them seventh on the final medals table.
19:45 Next is the entry of the South Korean Flag. It is being carried by eight of South Korea's gold medal winners here at the Games. We don't have their names at the moment but will try and get them for you, at some point...
Soprano, Im Sun-hae follows them out to sing the National Anthem. When she finishes, for the first time, we really hear the crowd inside the stadium, who have been relatively muted so far...
Plenty of flags are being waved, and, so far, it doesn't look as if many of the LED's are being broken, because they are creating a really good effect. Red and blue flickering lights all around the stadium...
19:42 Again, it is very visually striking, with lots of extra details to entertain us. Some of the the performers are breaking blocks of wood. Others are duelling with each others, and others are just exhibiting moves individually, "kata" karate style.
19:37 A big section of the Ceremony now, with a taekwondo performance of 100 performers taking place, illustration South Korea's national sport, a sport they won six gold medals in during these Games.
The members of 'KUKKIWON', a group considered a "breeding ground for taekwondo in the world", are performing in what is being billed as a depiction of the "high and strong spirit of Koreans, noble spirit of Korean people and pride and dignity of the country from which taekwondo has originated".
The sport emphasizes defence rather than attack, we are told, illustrating the spirit of taekwondo or Korean people valuing peace and fairness.
19:33 But it is early stages at the moment, and I can confirm there will be a K-Pop element later on...
19:30 We now see a video of highlights of the Games, as if to contextualise the images of Asian harmony they are striving to convey. It is a good message, with some truth, as shown by the North Korean presence tonight, although I feel there is a danger of overplaying the "Asia as One" message at a time when there is so much conflict on the continent.
The vibe and style of the Ceremony so far reminds me more of what we saw in the Pyeongchang 2018 section of the Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony in Sochi than the Opening one here. We are back to classical, oriental music and traditional Korean messages rather than "Gangnam Style".
19:25 The music is very slow and not particularly pleasant on the ears, but there is a beautiful visual effect, with their striking orange and purple dresses standing out in the otherwise dark stadium.
It gets a good reception from the crowd.
19:20 There has been a lot of criticism in the South Korean press here over recent days over the lack of embracing of Incheon's local culture during the Opening Ceremony, which was too bothered about K-Pop and celebrity culture, it is alleged.
Conducted by seven female dancers of the National Dance Company of Korea,
"Chunsanghwa" is considered a "beautiful dance, embodying a heavenly maid or a celestial nymph which is known to exchange and intercourse with the world of human beings by flying the sky.
In this context, it is meant to represent the "sound and dance of Korea infusing new breath to 4.5 billion Asians".
19:14 VIPs have now taken their seats. As well as OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, these include Jung Hong-won, Prime Minister of South Korea, Kim Young-soo, the President of Incheon 2014, Kim Jung-haeng, President of the Korean Olympic Committee, and Yoo Jeong-bok, Mayor of Incheon.
There is no Park Geun-hye, the South Korean President, here tonight. She has been very busy since the Opening Ceremony, visiting Canada and then the US for the United Nations General Assembly. But there are still very senior representatives here.
19:08 One other element so far of this includes the use of special LED lighting to add to the occasion. A LED bar is installed across spectators' seats to provide "diversified
lighting shows and deliver messages while facilitating participation of spectators from Count-down and other performances so as to realise the Closing Ceremony where performers and spectators communicate with each other".
We heard several messages beforehand warning us not to break the lighting as it is "very expensive". They do like their rules here in South Korea, as we have said a few times during these Games...
19:05 The first section tonight is being performed by Rainbow Choir: a choir founded in 2009 and composed of about 30 children from multicultural families. It is a song entitled the "Harmony of Dreams". The same themes of unity and harmony across Asia that we heard about in the Opening Ceremony are being embraced tonight.
19:00 And the Closing Ceremony is underway!
18:59 A countdown has begun...
18:55 There is a South Korean version of the Spice Girls performing at the moments, but an atmosphere of anticipation builds as that comes to a conclusion...
The Ceremony is starting very soon...
18:44 Returning to the presence of the North Korean delegation tonight. Hwang Pyong So, who we photographed below, is considered by many the second most important official in North Korea behind leader Kim Jong Un. That really is a huge political moment. Remember, North and South Korea are still officially at war, after only a ceasefire, rather than a peace treaty, was signed following the Korean War...
A conflict, between 1950 and 1953, in which Incheon played a major role, as the landing point for the United Nations troops who entered on the southern side.
Closing Ceremony so far...
18:35 Turning our attention to tonight's event, set to begin in just under 30 minutes time. There is a Welcome Performance going on at the moment as the crowd takes their seats. Not too much to say about it really, other than the fact it is all in Korean, so quite hard to keep track for someone whose grasp of the local language extends to one and a half words. And that is being generous.
A good crowd in the stadium, very different from the last few nights of athletics action here, where the capacity has been no more than 20-30 per cent full. I would say it is 90 per cent full already tonight.
Most of the spectators were still milling around in an excited fashion outside when I came in earlier. A lot of them using "selfie-sticks" which is not a tool I was too familiar with, but they can be seen everywhere outside. The closest comparison I can think of is an old fashioned litter-picker we used to be given at school to collect rubbish on a detention. But they seem to make the onerous task of taking selfies a lot easier...
I wonder how long until IOC President Thomas Bach purchases one?
Asian Games a way to bring continental unity
18:30 In most people's eyes, the best example of this has come through the participation of North Korea at these Games. And there was another great moment today, with South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae meeting with Hwang Pyong-So, vice-chairman of North Korea's National Defence Commission.
I wonder if the topic of the men's football final came up? South Korea, in case you forgot, scored a winner in the 121st minute!
18:24 But overall, the Games have been considered a success, and a great way to bring together the world's biggest continent at politically troubled times.
18:16 We have had Chinese gold medals by the galleon, Kazakh success in canoe sprint and boxing, South Korean glory in baseball, football and basketball, Qatari and Bahraini dominance - with a little bit of help from Africa - on the track, and a plethora of gold medals in sports ranging from wushu to modern pentathlon via water polo and kabaddi.
And that is only scratching the surface.
There has also been hijab-gate and dodgy-officials-in boxing-gate, not to mention six doping cases, including two gold medal winners being stripped of their titles.
18:10 On the one hand, it doesn't feel anything like 15 days since I was sitting here for the Opening Ceremony of these Games. But on the other hand, that feels like light-years ago...
A lot has certainly happened since then.