Jakarta-Palembang 2018 President Erick Thohir holds the torch with Indonesian badminton legend Susy Susanti in New Delhi ©OCA

The flame for the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia next month was ignited today at a ceremony in New Delhi, India - birthplace of the Olympic Council of Asia’s premier sporting event in 1951.

The Asian Games flame is kept permanently at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and it was used to light the Torch for the Relay which started with a symbolic first leg in the Indian capital and is due to end at the Opening Ceremony in Jakarta on August 18.

London 2012 Olympic boxing bronze medallist, five-time world champion and 2014 Incheon Asian Games champion Mary Kom was the first runner of 30 elite athletes and Indian sports dignitaries to take part in the Torch Relay.

Kom recently pulled of India's team for Jakarta Palembang 2018 to concentrate on the World Championships in New Delhi on November. 

Susy Susanti, the 1992 Olympic Games women’s badmin singles champion, was Indonesia’s designated Torch Relay ambassador in New Delhi.

The chief guest was India’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel, who was joined by the President of the Indian Olympic Association, Narinder Batra, and the secretary general Rajeev Mehta.

The OCA was represented by two Life vice-presidents, Wei Jizhong and Raja Randhir Singh,  also an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee. 

Wei described the ceremony as a "sacred occasion" held at the "Olympia of Asia" - New Delhi.

"As we prepare to hold our 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang next month, we salute the pioneers and the visionaries who wrote the first chapter in our incredible success story," he said.

"Wei added: "We have built the path for others to follow - and we have displayed the power of sport to unite and embrace our athletes from all corners of the continent.

"As the Asian Games have grown over the decades we will never forget our roots here in New Delhi. 

"This is where it all began - and this is why we will continue to come back to New Delhi every four years to start another Asian Games and to celebrate this spirit of friendship and solidarity.

"The passion for the Asian Games was ignited here in New Delhi 67 years ago - and burns stronger year by year, decade by decade. 

"In Jakarta and Palembang we will witness the 'Energy of Asia' and another memorable Asian Games."

The flame will be transported by the Indonesian Air Force back to Indonesia for a welcome ceremony in Yogyakarta on Tuesday (July 17). 

The Relay is due to travel through 54 cities in 18 provinces, including the tourist hot spot of Bali and the co-host city Palembang, before arriving at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on August 17 - the day before the Opening Ceremony of a Games due to last until September 2. 

Erick Thohir, President of Jakarta Palembang 2018, promised the Torch Relay would promote tourism destinations and historical landmarks throughout the country.

The 1,000 Torch bearers will include athletes and famous artists and the 18,000 kilometres route will feature relay runs, street festivals, sponsor activities and other celebrations ahead of Indonesia’s second hosting of the Asian Games and first since 1962.