The 15th Asian Games, which is officially called the XV Asiad was held in Doha, the capital of Qatar from December 1st to December 15th 2006. The Asiad which is Asia’s equivalent of the Olympic Games is a very big sporting event. Doha is the second city in West Asia to host the Asian Games. The first city in the region to do so was Teheran in Iran. Doha Asian Games has the unique distinction where all the 45 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia took part in the event.
The Torch Relay is an important and integral part of the Asian Games. The relay started on the 8th October 2006 with a small ceremony at the Doha Club. The first stop was at New Delhi on the 11th October and it passed through 23 cities in 13 countries. The torch covered a distance of 50,000 kms in 55 days. The Doha Asian Games torch relay was the longest relay in the history of the Asian Games.
The 15th Asian Games opened with a grandeur never seen before. It was touted as the largest sporting extravaganza and it really lived up to its name. The 1st of December saw a stream of visitors thronging the Khalifa Stadium. In fact, many eager visitors were in the stadium by 3.00 pm for the event which was scheduled to start at 8.00 pm. All tickets were sold out and thousands of hopeful fans waited patiently outside in a desperate hope that some more tickets may be put up for sale.
More than 10,000 athletes competed across the 39 sporting events and 38 of the 45 countries which participated won at least a medal. World records were broken in weightlifting as well as other games. All the people at the Doha Asian Games were happy to see Iraq come back to the games after 1986. They were off to a good start when they won a gold and two silver medals.
As expected, the Doha Asian Games saw China dominate most of the games – Table Tennis, Badminton, Snooker, Swimming, Gymnastics, Weight Lifting – to name a few. The Chinese delegation made a clean sweep of all the games and there was a vast difference in the medals tally of the nearest rival which was Japan.
Doha Asian Games has made Qatar, and primarily Doha, as a popular tourist destination. Doha has become the first city in the Middle East to host this event. The games were inaugurated by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, at the famous Khalifa stadium.
The Closing Ceremony saw a large number of spectators come to the Khalifa Stadium where all the Qataris came together to thank sportsmen, officials, spectators, and the whole world for the wonderful games which passed off smoothly. They were happy that the games went off without any major event to mar the games. The atmosphere was alive as dancers, singers and acrobats got ready to show off their talents. The performance saw some spectacular aerial dancing by tight rope walkers.
This event was followed by the formal passing of the Asian Games Torch and the Asian Games flag to the representatives of Asian Games 2010, Guangzhou in China. The spectacle ended with an extraordinary display of fireworks and the crowd cheered with each explosion. With a stunning climax, the Doha Asian Games came to a close.