BEIJING, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao lit the Asian Games torch from a specially designed cauldron in Beijing's Temple of Heaven on Tuesday morning, marking the official start of the month-long relay.
"I declare the start of the torch relay for the 16th Asian Games," Hu said after handing the main torch to Beijing Olympic men's 400m freestyle swimming silver medallist Zhang Lin, the first runner of the torch relay.
"The 16th Asian Games will officially open in Guangzhou in one month and it is another high profile sports event that will be held in China following the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," said Liu Peng, president of the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC), at the torch lighting ceremony and inauguration ceremony of torch relay for the Guangzhou Asian Games.
"The Asian Games torch relay will take place in Beijing, Harbin, Changchun, Haiyang of Shandong and cities across the Guangdong province. The 16th Asian Games are displaying their charm to the whole Asia and the whole world," Liu added.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), expressed his deep gratitude to the Chinese government and Chinese people for their great efforts in the preparation for the Guangzhou Asian Games.
"We are looking forward to sharing the enthusiasm and joy brought by the 16th Asian Games with people from across Asia and witnessing the great success of the Games," he said.
The torch relay will cover Beijing, Harbin, Changchun, Shandong's Haiyang and 21 cities of the Guangdong province before arriving for the Asian Games opening ceremony in Guangzhou on November 12.