Incheon: The buzz is strangely missing as Incheon gears up to host the Asian Games from Friday with hardly any banners or volunteers in sight to welcome the athletes and delegates for the event which cost a whopping USD 1.62 billion.
Barring banners in and around the airport, there is hardly anything to remind the visitors of the Games starting tomorrow and it seems another routine day or week of work for the common people of this city which is just 25km from capital Seoul which hosted the Asian Games in 1986.
Banners are conspicuous by their absence once the airport is left behind in this sprawling city. This, in fact, is the third time that Korea is hosting the Asian Games, the second occasion being at Busan in 2002. What is not visible is the large number of volunteers at the airport who guide what is generally known as the "Asian Games Family".
In fact, the visitors for the previous Games have been spoilt by the separate and dedicated counters set up for immigration personnel when these Games happen, but here it needed a senior officer to order the opening of extra ones to cater to the "Asian Games Family" of athletes, officials and media personnel. Perhaps, the fact that they have regularly played the gracious host to these events as well as the FIFA World Cup (jointly with Japan), has made it a routine exercise for them.
There are reports that the ticket sales have been sluggish but they might pick up once the action starts after what is expected to be a grand opening at the main stadium. The Chinese juggernaut, that reaped a record 199 gold medals in the previous Games at home in Guangzhou, is once again set to roll and crush all opposition in many events, though their overall medal tally may not match the haul (416) of four years ago. South Korea, who finished second last time around with 76 gold, 65 silver and 91 bronze ahead of arch-rivals Japan, are once again set to retain their spot in the 36-discipline event.