NAYPYITAW, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- The 27th SEA Games in Myanmar themed "Green, Clean and Friendship" opened in a kaleidoscope of colours at the Wunna Theikdi Main Stadium here Wednesday night.
The arrival of Myanmar President U Thein Sein and his wife, Daw Khin Khin Win and guests including Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar at the stadium was greeted with a stunning fireworks display.
A large group of children formed digit formations for the countdown before the official opening ceremony was declared.
Spectators were also entertained with performances by the Myanmar Orchestra followed by pieces with traditional Myanmar musical instruments such as harp and xylophone followed by the flag raising ceremony of the Asean Sports Federation flag and the flag of Myanmar by Myanmar military personnel.
This was followed by the procession of the 11 competing contingents namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam and Myanmar.
The Malaysian contingent was led by Chef-de-Mission Datuk Wira Amiruddin Embi and Malaysian flag bearer Sazali Samad who were accompanied by 70 athletes and 57 officials in the National Sports Council's corporate attire of tiger striped shirts and black pants.
The parade was followed by the opening speech by the Myanmar President before a gush of fireworks lit up the sky above the stadium once again.
The ceremony continued with the pledge reading by Myanmar wushu athlete, Sandi Oo before former Myanmar woman football team goalkeeper Bago Tin Aung brought in the Games torch.
Myanmar archer Way Lin Tun then shot a lit arrow into the cauldron to signify the official opening of the Games which will end on Dec 22.
This is the third time Myanmar are hosting the largest sporting event among Southeast Asian countries after 1961 and 1969. The national contingent comprising 556 athletes are participating in 29 of the 33 sporting events to be contested in this edition of the games with a target of 40 gold medals.
The sports are swimming, athletics, archery, badminton, basketball, snooker and billiards, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, football (including futsal), golf, hockey, judo, karate, rowing, sepak takraw (chinlone), sailing, shooting, ping pong, taekwondo, volleyball, bodybuilding, chess, Muay Thai, pencak silat, weightlifting and petanque.
Malaysia are not participating in four sports namely vovinam, traditional boat race, wrestling and kempo.
Malaysia's best performance in SEA Games outside of Kuala Lumpur was at the 2007 edition in Korat, Thailand when the haul was 68 gold, 52 silver and 96 bronze.
By Mazani Chan Yat Sin -- BERNAMA