DOHA: The mascot of the Asian Games 2006 was unveiled in a colourful ceremony in conjunction with the start of the 700-day countdown to the 15th edition of the Games on the waterfront of the Qatari capital here last night.
Orry the oryx, the symbol of Qatar, was paraded along the Corniche, Dohas pedestrian waterfront, to the accompaniment of music and performances and a laser show on the facade of the Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC) building.
A giant statue of Orry was also unveiled on the Corniche under the countdown marker to the Dec 1, 2006 opening ceremony of the first major sporting event to be hosted by a Gulf country.
The Games, showcasing 40 sports, including 27 of the 28 featured in the Olympics, also aimed to become a benchmark in standards of hosting the Asiad, said Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) director-general Abdulla Khalid Al Qahtani.
In launching the mascot, he said: We will show the world the identity that will pave our way to the best ever Asian Games.
The 700 days to the 15th Asian Games will witness our commitment and devotion to place Qatar on the international sports map and to enhance its position as an emerging regional and international cultural sports destination.
Also featured in the launch was the Asian Games torch which will pass through the 45 participating countries, encompassing some 60,000km, within 100 days in the run-up to the opening ceremony.
Earlier, a minutes silence was observed to mark the tragedy in South and South-East Asia following the earthquake in north-west Sumatra which triggered a tsunami on Sunday. Bernama