SINGAPORE - Under the iconic dome of the new National Stadium and with the city skyline as backdrop, the 28th SEA Games kicked off in stunning fashion on Friday night.
A two-hour extravaganza that took some 5,000 performers and volunteers to pull off helped mark the official start of the region's biggest sporting spectacle.
Singapore's 749-strong contingent marched into the stadium was met with thunderous cheers when it marched in last as hosts in the athletes' parade, led by flagbearer and swimmer Quah Ting Wen.
The event included performances from some of the best of Singapore's creative minds, as well as appearances from past sporting legends.
Former athletes such as athletics' K. Jayamani, swimmer David Lim, and shooter Lee Wung Yew - some of the Republic's most decorated SEA Games athletes - were among eight who carried the SEA Games Federation flag.
Current crop of sportsmen and sportswomen also shouldered some responsibility. World champion bowler Shayna Ng, Olympic canoeist Geraldine Lee and athletics' Dipna Lim-Prasad formed part of the cadre that carried the Games flag.
Other greats such as bowler Grace Young, silat's Sheikh Alauddin and athletics' C. Kunalan were also part of the show.
Said Young, who lit the Games cauldron the last time it was held here in 1993: "I think the opening ceremony has seen us all come full circle after all our previous experiences in other roles (as athlete, coach, supporter).
"I love the idea of having us passing on the legacy. It's a spectacular show."
Kunalan, noting how the show also paid tribute to other countries and unsung heroes like coaches, said: "All these symbolise Singapore's inclusiveness, how we value friendship and goodwill with all the countries involved."
Hosted by Chua En Lai, Sharon Au and Nikki Muller, the five-act production also saw performances from local a capella group Vocaluptuous and violin virtuoso Siow Lee-Chin.
The night culminated in the lighting of the Games cauldron, an honour which was given to former footballer Fandi Ahmad and his eldest son Irfan.
Said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in his speech: "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. We will be writing a new chapter of our sporting story - it's a story of Singapore sport, and also Southeast Asian sport.
"We celebrate our diversity; we celebrate our unique talents; we celebrate the extraordinary in each and every one of us."
The SEA Games will formally begin 11 days of competition from Saturday. Some 7,000 athletes and officials will be involved in 402 events across 36 sports.