December 2, 2006 -- Morning play in the women's badminton competition was suspended today because the roof of
the competition hall sprung a leak overnight -- allowing rain to drip onto the court.
Persistent rain and wet courts also delayed the start of the soft tennis competition by three hours. But other events began on time -- with baseball, beach volleyball, chess, hockey, kabaddi, and sepak takraw among the competitions under way.
The rain caused some parts of the lavish opening ceremony on December 1 to be canceled. Despite the weather, however, more than 40,000 spectators packed into Qatar's Khalifa Stadium in Doha to witness the multimillion-dollar opening ceremony that marked the formal start of the 15th Asian Games.
Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, declared the Asian Games open after the some 13,000 athletes paraded into the arena, accompanied by music from across Asia.
Athletes from 45 countries and regions entered the stadium -- with North Korea and South Korea marching together -- for the event billed as "the games of your life." They will compete in 46 different sports -- in a total of 424 different events.
The honor of lighting the 50-meter Asian Games cauldron was given to the emir's son Muhammad, who is the captain of Qatar's equestrian endurance team.
Astride a purebred Arabian gelding, he received the Asian Games flame at the end of its 55,000-kilometer relay route. He rode up a flight of stairs to the top of the stadium to light the torch.
More than 30,000 fireworks lit up the night sky as the lavish production evoked the rich history of the region.
The Asian Games flame will remain alight until after the last competition is completed on December 15.
Sports officials from across Asia concede that major sports powers like China, Japan, and South Korea are likely to bring home the most medals. Indeed, during the first day of competition Chinese athletes had already won 10 medals, South Korea three.
Qatar's Olympic Committee has announced plans to bid for the 2016 summer games when the application process begins in 2007.