For those who have still not got over the way New Delhi wowed the world at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, Friday is going to be a big surprise when Guangzhou showcases its culture, spirit and technical wizardry at the Asian Games opening ceremony.At 8:45 pm sharp local time (6:15 pm IST), on both sides of the Pearl River, the opening ceremony will begin and there is talk that this will be something even more pulsating than what Beijing had to show to the world at the Olympics in 2008.’Ever Onward’ has been the Asian Games slogan. In a literal sense, China will prove this on Friday as, for the first time, the opening ceremony will not be held inside a stadium but outdoors.Experts who have had a sneak preview of the show say that “nothing like this has ever happened before” as close to 14,000 athletes are expected to be paraded on the riverfront in boats.As if this is not enough, talk veers around to who will light the Games cauldron. As has been the case at the Olympics and Asian Games, lighting the cauldron is a big event. And who will do it is being debated. Apparently, six temporary stages have been erected on both banks of the river for the opening show. The grand show will also demonstrate the south China culture.Chen Weiya, chief director of the opening ceremony told the media that this opening ceremony will “break away from the confines of stadiums and use the city itself as background. You will see athletes parade into the ceremony on boats”.advertisementHuge LED screens will also be in place for people to see how China is ready to wow the world. Just to jog the readers’ memory, children have played a key role in opening ceremonies. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Nikki Webster had created a wave and in 2008 in Beijing, Lin Miaoke was the talking point.There is speculation that this time, too, the opening ceremony will feature talented children. In New Delhi, when traditional martial art forms were shown, people liked it. Wushu, a Chinese martial art, could be something big on Friday.That apart, explosive lighting, high-decibel fireworks and laser shows could turn out to be the talking point of the Asian Games.As far as the sporting events that begin a day later are concerned, China is set to retain the tag of the best country in Asia with a rich medal haul. As a nation which takes great pride in sporting excellence, the way China has emerged as a superpower is well known.What is even more surprising is they are keen to do well even in a sport like cricket, which they have taken to recently. Against such a backdrop, where Japan and Korea will also fight for overall supremacy, it will be interesting to see how India fares.After the highs of the Commonwealth Games (CWG), where India finished second in the medals tally behind Australia, it would be improper to think India will come up with a similar medal tally. At the last Asian Games in Doha, India finished with a tally of 53 medals (10 gold, 17 silver and 26 bronze).This time around, even though India did well in the CWG, expecting the athletes to again peak in such a short time span would be asking too much. Perhaps, in sports where only skill counts, one can hope the athletes will maintain focus. However, to expect India to shoot down the same number of medals in shooting, or expect Saina Nehwal to be a sure shot for gold in badminton, is unrealistic.The focus will be on men’s hockey in a big way, though making predictions will be foolhardy. If the CWG showing came as a surprise, one again expects that in cue sports, kabaddi, chess and golf, India can do well. But certainly not in tennis, where the depth is suspect.