On 31 December 2017, the night before the arrival of 2018, Kunming (Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China) hosted a grand gala concert marking the successful completion of the 2nd SCO International Marathon.
More than 2,000 spectators gathered in the Congress Hall in the city of Kunming. They included the Marathon winners, heads of delegations from 27 countries and leaders of Yunnan Province and Kunming. Vice Governor of Yunnan Province Mr Gao Feng and SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov gave a welcoming speech to participants.
"A year ago, saying goodbye to one another after the first Marathon, we agreed to meet again in the city of ‘the eternal spring.' We kept our promise," said SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov. "They say the sky has no limits. Today, the powerful river named SCO Marathon was boundless. If the rainbow doesn't leave anyone cold, the abundance of colours of the SCO Marathon gave everyone of us lots of joyful and happy moments. Every spectator of this tremendous sports event was overwhelmed with admiration and pride for our unity," Rashid Alimov emphasised.
The SCO Secretary-General heartily thanked all those involved in the ambitious event — heads of Yunnan Province and the city of Kunming, police officers and doctors, volunteers and journalists, hospitable residents of Kunming, all athletes and sponsors. "The contribution of each of you has ensured the success of the SCO Marathon. Together with all of you, we have got closer to one another, more friendly and close-knit," commented Rashid Alimov, wishing everyone robust health, happiness, harmony, love, prosperity and welfare in the coming year.
The concert by famous artists Spring Rhymes kicked off with a film about the SCO Marathon, present-day life in the multi-faceted Yunnan Province, its thousand years' history and the diversity of its cultures and ethnicities. Performers introduced guests to three masterpieces of the non-material cultural heritage of China — guqin, Tai Chi gymnastics and a special style of floral compositions from the Song dynasty. The famous legend About Life in the Mountains was brought to life onstage with a skilful combination of a pizzicato musical instrument and a virtuoso performance of Tai Chi gymnastics.
The troupe, which included young but already professional actors, presented the famous Beijing opera with extraordinarily beautiful scenery and costumes. World famous magician Li Yan and dances by White-and-Blue Chinese Porcelain and The Dancing Art of the Tang Dynasty, filled with profound meaning and with a story behind them, almost transferred guests to the Imperial Forbidden City and ancient China. Chinese designers presented a unique collection of silk dresses and a women's choir performed the famous Chinese song Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower). A folk group from Inner Mongolia and other performers presented the audience with the versatile and rich culture of China.
The concert by Chinese artists served as the final positive accord of the last day of 2017. "There is no doubt that we will manage to preserve and augment the vivifying energy which the Marathon and the New Year cultural programme gave us and will meet again next year," concluded the SCO Secretary-General.
The starry sky above Kunming was iridescent with the rainbow of the colourful salute in honour of the winners of the SCO International Marathon and the upcoming year, 2018.