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International relations

Indonesia president Widodo opens 18th Asian Games

Athletes from the Unified Korea team march at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games at Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia on Aug.18, 2018.   © Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- Indonesia president Joko Widodo declared the 18th Asian Games open in a glittering ceremony on Saturday, launching what promises to be a frenetic fortnight of breathless sporting action featuring the best of the continent's athletes.

Some 13,000 athletes will compete in 40 sports and 67 disciplines, including new additions such as bridge, jet skiing and roller skating in the biggest multi-sport extravaganza outside the Olympics.

"I hereby declare the 18th Asian Games 2018 open," Widodo said in front of a 50,000-plus crowd at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium.

Esports debuts as an official demonstration sport in Indonesia, which volunteered to host the Games after Vietnam pulled out in 2014 because of financial concerns.

North and South Korea marched together at the opening ceremony and will field joint teams in several events. Kuwait will participate under their own flag a couple of days after the International Olympic Committee lifted their ban.

The Games, which conclude on Sept. 2, are the first co-hosted by two cities with Palembang on the island of Sumatra acting as venue for some sports along with the capital Jakarta. 

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