Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the National Games of China in Xi'an in Shaanxi ©Getty Images

President Xi Jinping has opened the National Games of China, seen as the country's biggest sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The novel coronavirus originated from Wuhan in China in late 2019 and ground sport around the world to a halt in March 2020.

The Opening Ceremony, which took place in the 60,000-seat Xi'an Olympic Centre, appeared to take place in front of full stands, as videos posted by state-run Chinese tabloid Global Times showed.

Flags of the competing provinces were paraded around during the Opening Ceremony, included from Tibet and Hong Kong.

Xi then declared the Games open, with a plethora of dramatic performances, opening with 1,600 drummers, reminiscent of the famous moment during the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony.

A children's choir sang the song The Roots of Our People, relating to China's ethical make-up.

There was also a re-enactment of the 1934-1935 Long March - when the Communist Party walked for more than a year to escape enemy forces, eventually ending in Shaanxi, the province where the Games are being hosted.

Women wearing light blue robes also conducted a performance reflecting on the Tang dynasty, during which Xian was the Chinese capital. 

Themes such as China's space exploration and COVID-19 countermeasures were also explored, while the song Ode to the Motherland opened and closed the Ceremony.

The Flame was lit by Chinese shooter Yang Qian, who won two gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

In terms of the sport, China's Olympic basketball stars - named the United Team - comfortably defeated Jiangsu 100-52.

The Games are serving as a test run before the Winter Olympics, set to take place in Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou in February next year. 

Spectators are allowed, but those over 18 must provide full proof of vaccination against COVID-19 more than 14 days in advance of attending.

More than 400 events will be contested at the Games, with the programme similar that of the Summer Olympics.