The flame for the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, next month was lit in the birthplace of the Asiad, New Delhi. Image Credit: OCA Media Department

New Delhi: The flame for the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, next month was lit at the birthplace of the Asiad, New Delhi, on Saturday.

In a ceremony that evoked thoughts of Olympia in ancient Greece, a High Priestess lit the torch from the rays of the sun reflected in a parabolic mirror at the MDC National Stadium — home of the first Asian Games in 1951.

The ceremony, attended by around 500 VIP guests from the Indian and Korean sports communities, as well as the Olympic Council of Asia, Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee and the national and city government, also signaled the start of the torch relay.

After a 5km journey involving 40 torch-bearers on the historic Raj Path in New Delhi, the flame will move to Weihai on the tip of the Shandong peninsula in China before entering Korea, where it will join with the domestic torch in another landmark occasion on August 13.

From there, the relay will visit 17 provinces throughout Korea and arrive in Incheon in time for the Asian Games opening ceremony on September 19 at the new Asiad Main Stadium.

The 17th Asian Games will run from September 19 to October 4 and feature some 9,000 athletes from 45 National Olympic Committees in 36 sports, 48 disciplines and 439 events.

The VIP guests included OCA Secretary General Raja Randhir Singh, IAGOC President Kim Young-soo and Korea’s Ambassador to India, HE Lee Joo-guy, while the relay runners included the OCA’s Director of NOC and International Relations, Vinod Tiwari, and Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games athletes.

The ceremony also featured cultural performances from India and Korea.