Guangzhou was awarded the right to host the Games on July 1, 2004, as the sole bidding city. This came after the withdrawal of several cities, Amman, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul. A total of 53 venues were used to host the events including 11 constructed for use at the Games. The opening and closing ceremonies were held along the Pearl River in Haixinsha Island, and was the first time in history that the opening ceremony for a major sports event was not held inside a stadium. The final medal tally was led by traditional powerhouse China, followed by South Korea and third place Japan. China set a new Games record with 199 gold medals. The President of Olympic Council of Asia Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah hailed the Games as "outstanding" and "one of the best ever".