Asian Games close in spectacular Arabian fantasy

Updated: 2006-12-16 13:20

DOHA, Dec 15 - The 15th Asian Games closed in spectacular fashion on Friday in a multi-million dollar arabesque fantasy, with swashbuckling sailors duelling in the soft light of 40,000 lanterns.

Just hours after hosts Qatar won the 428th and final gold medal of the continent's biggest sporting extravaganza, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah officially closed the Doha Games.

"May the youth of Asia ever celebrate the Asian Games in the spirit of brotherhood and for the good of humanity," he told the crowd in the Qatari capital.

Athletes from 45 countries marched around a packed Khalifa stadium for the final time as hundreds of dancers armed with glittering swords twirled around giant Persian urns to the sound of traditional Arab beats.

The floor of the stadium was transformed into a vast desert, which played host to a caravan of camels and Arabian horses.

Flying carpets and boats with neon-lit sails descended from the sky as sword-wielding sailors unleashed a torrent of brightly-coloured fireworks into the air.

The theme then switched to a more oriental flavour as singers and dancers from China took the stage to showcase the next Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010.

The Asian Games flag and torch were handed over to Liu Peng, president of the Olympic Committee of China, as the ceremony drew to a close in a crescendo of dazzling fireworks.

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