The 19th Asian Games ended Sunday with a closing ceremony in Hangzhou, China, after more than two weeks of competition involving 12,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions.
Chinese Premier Li Qiang attended the wrap-up event in this eastern China city, whereas at the Sept. 23 opening ceremony, President Xi Jinping was present to declare the start of the Games.
The games were held almost completely without face masks, for not only athletes but also spectators and organizing staff, after a one-year postponement caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The Asian Games flame is about to be extinguished, but its spirit will live on," Gao Zhidan, head of the local organizing committee, said at the 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.
"On this continent where countries share mountains, rivers and close cultural bonds, let's promote peace, solidarity and inclusiveness through sports, uphold the Asian Games spirit, and work together to create a better future," he said. "Together, we will write a new chapter of an Asian community with a shared future."
Medals were contested across 40 disciplines, including non-Olympic ones such as kabaddi, sepaktakraw and the Go board game.
Esports debuted as official medal events in Hanzhou, where e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has its headquarters.
The host country made the "Asian Olympics" look like the Chinese national championships, leading the gold medal table with 201, followed by Japan's 52 and South Korea's 42.
Chinese athletes had gold-silver finishes in many events, while India made a significant advance, placing fourth with 28 golds.
"Technically we have had one of the finest Asian Games ever," Olympic Council of Asia acting director general Vinod Kumar Tiwari told a press conference Sunday before the final events ended.
"We have had a total of 97 Games records, 26 Asian records and 13 world records, so the standard of the Games has been very, very high. We are very happy with it."
Shigeyuki Nakarai, whose dancer name is Shigekix, served as Japan's flag bearer, a day after winning the gold medal in men's breaking, also known as breakdancing, to qualify for next year's Paris Olympics.
North Korea, with a delegation of about 190 athletes, returned to an international multi-sport event for the first time since the previous Asian Games in 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
North Korea had kept its strict COVID-19 border controls amid the pandemic.
In July, the Olympic Council of Asia approved for up to 500 Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part without national symbols at the Asian Games amid Russia's war on Ukraine, but in the end, those athletes did not compete in Hangzhou.
Earlier Sunday, China won artistic swimming's team gold medal with a total of 868.9676 points after the free routine. Japan earned silver with 831.2535, and Kazakhstan took bronze with 663.7417.
Japan won the men's karate team kata gold medal, while Taiwan's Gu Shiau-shuang defeated Kazakhstan's Moldir Zhangbyrbay in the women's kumite 50-kilogram final.
The next Asian Games will go to Japan's Aichi Prefecture and its capital Nagoya in 2026.