Hangzhou 2022 organisers opted for light shows instead of the traditional fireworks ©Getty Images

National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka secretary general Maxwell de Silva has commended the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games organisers for not using fireworks in yesterday's Opening Ceremony, claiming he is to be credited.

The Games' opener was much anticipated after being delayed by a year due to COVID-19 and heads were turned when fireworks were dropped from the programme in their country of origin.

They were replaced by digital light shows as part of an attempt to stage the first carbon-neutral Asian Games.

In 2010, De Silva was the driving force behind a Sri Lankan proposal for fireworks to be banned from the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

The organisation also raised concerns about fireworks' polluting effects and suggested a laser show as a replacement at a joint meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruling Executive Board and National Olympic Committees in Acapulco.

Maxwell de Silva expressed his happiness he
Maxwell de Silva expressed his happiness he "initiated" the discussion that led to Hangzhou 2022 not using fireworks, as he claims ©OCA

De Silva then issued his praise for the decision in China's third Asian Games Opening Ceremony, after Beijing 1990 and Guangzhou 2010. 

"I am glad that I initiated such humble thought/concept to the world when no one was willing to say it," De Silva told insidethegames, following the Hangzhou 2022 curtain-raiser.

"Today, my action speaks a thousand words when China decided to eliminate fireworks at their Hangzhou Asian Games thereby Asia giving the leadership to the rest of the world by showing them that we in Asia care of the Mother Earth and sustainability."

Then IOC President Jacques Rogge said at the time of De Silva's initial plea that the issue would be referred to the body's Sport and Environment Committee for further examination, but nothing came of it.

The change between the Beijing 2008 Ceremonies and Hangzhou 2022 in firework usage suggests they may be a thing of the past ©Getty Images
The change between the Beijing 2008 Ceremonies and Hangzhou 2022 in firework usage suggests they may be a thing of the past ©Getty Images

Two years prior saw arguably the most spectacular firework displays in Olympic Games history at Beijing 2008.

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies in the Chinese capital featured 29,000 shells and cost an estimated $20 million (£16.3 million/€18.7 million), marking a stark contrast to the approach taken in Hangzhou. 

The ongoing event, set to run until October 8, is being billed as a green games and features several other environmentally friendly schemes such as the Clean Your Plate initiative aiming to reduce food waste.

Athletes and other delegates are also encouraged to take public transport or walk whenever possible, and actively recycle.