The 16th Asian Games officially opened on Friday in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou with a "breakthrough" ceremony that organisers hope will linger long in the memory. In a departure from the standard openings, Guangzhou, China's third-biggest city, held the traditional curtain raiser on a boat-shaped island in the middle of the Pearl River instead of in a stadium. The extravaganza ignited a huge security sweep to protect national leaders including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, with forces mounting a land, sea and air operation that brought parts of the city of over 10 million to a standstill. Central to the water theme of the ceremony was a flotilla of 45 boats -- representing each competing team -- that sailed up the river before anchoring off Haixinsha island, where a packed grandstand eagerly awaited.