A spectacular opening ceremony, which lived up the SEA Games motto to Celebrate the Extraordinary, ushered in the start of the 28th SEA Games on Friday.
Photo credit: SINGSOC/ Action Images via Reuter
With millions of people from Southeast Asia watching events unfold, Singapore delivered an amazing two-hour extravaganza that showcased the region's cultural diversity and rapid modernisation.
The ceremony took place at Singapore's newly built national stadium in front of a full house of around 50,000 spectators and dignitaries.
The honour of declaring the Games open was bestowed on the Singaporean president Tony Tan Keng Yam while Singaporean football legend Fandi Ahmad and his teenage son Irfan Fandi lit the cauldron.
Singaporean football legend Fandi Ahmad (right) and his teenage son Irfan Fandi. Photo credit: SINGSOC/ Action Images via Reuters
More than 4,000 athletes from the competing nations filed into the stadium. Brunei went first and was followed by Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.
In keeping with tradition, the host nation came out last. Singapore's teenage swimmer Quah Zheng Wen, who is attempting to win 12 gold medals at the Games, carried the Singaporean flag as the team were greeted by a deafening roar.
Micky Lin (below), the captain of Singapore's netball team, read the athlete's oath while Mohammad Azhar Bin Yusof, a rugby referee, read the official's oath.
Photo credit: SINGSOC/ Action Images via Reuters
Singapore's Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong delivered a brief speech in which he spoke about the friendships of the countries at the Games as well as paying tribute to Singapore's founding Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who died in march.
"He played a key part in developing a sporting Singapore. He officially opened our former National Stadium in 1973, when Singapore first hosted the SEA Games," Mr Wong said.
"Tonight, we are gathered together once again, at the same site in Kallang, but now in a different stadium, in this new majestic Sports Hub."
The opening ceremony included a five-act show directed Beatrice Chia-Richmond, and featured thousands of young performers from the region.
The opening act was about DNA, and was followed by segments on Imagination, Youth Expression, Sports and the City and ended with Singapore at the Stadium, the closing act which featured some of Singapore's greatest competitors, including Glory Barnabas, Joscelin Yeo, Melanie Martens, Ang Peng Siong and Joseph Schooling.
Act 1: DNA. Photo credit: SINGSOC/ Action Images via Reuters
The show also featured 160 high-definition projects that transformed the floor of the National Stadium into an enormous screen.
Finally, came the lighting of the Cauldron. The torch was passed between generations of Singapore's best athletes before being handed to Fandi Ahmad, who scored 55 goals in 101 internationals for Singapore.
He was then joined by his 17-year-old son Irfan, who is a member of the Singaporean team competing at the SEA Games, and together, symbolising the passing from one generation to the next, they lit the cauldron and set off a spectacular fireworks display that lit up the city.
For the athletes there is little time to rest with a bust schedule of events over the 11 days. Fourteen gold medals have already been decided before the official opening ceremony but with a total of 402 to be handed out before the closing ceremony on June 16, the action will be fast and furious.