President Bidya Bhandari on Sunday inaugurated the 13th edition of South Asian Games (SAG) at Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu. The 28 sports disciplines and a record number of more than 2000 athletes competing in the event have made this edition the biggest ever.
Bhandari unveiled her best wishes for the Games following a brief speech from Jagat Bahadur Bishwakarma the Sports Minister and President of main organizing committee, National Sports Council (NSC) member-secretary and President of SAG executive council Ramesh Kumar Silwal and Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) and South Asian Olympic Council (SAOC) President Jeevan Ram Shrestha.
Bhandari while at the opening ceremony said “I hereby announce the beginning of the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) wishing its grand organization by Nepal,”
The ceremony kicked off with the march-past by athletes of respective countries headed by the official mascot, Krishnasar, of the 13th SAG. The seven original SAARC countries are engaging.
More than 10,000 viewers attended the ceremony including thousands of security personnel and volunteers to make the ceremony a huge success. Dance and song performances were popular attractions among vivid colorful lights and fireworks displays.
Four times gold medallist Deepak Bista flamed the giant torch to officially kick-off the Games. Paras Khadka the Former national cricket team captain took the oath representing players whereas international badminton referee Deepak Thapa took the oath representing referees who will be governing the events. The opening ceremony continued for about 3 hours followed by an hour-long fireworks display.
SAG returned to Nepal after 20 years. Nepal had hosted the mega-regional games back in 1999 and the inaugural edition in 1984.
Nepal is handling the immense number of athletes of 596 in all 26 sports categories.
As per the Technical Committee, the SA Games powerhouse, India, has sent 487 athletes in 22 disciplines, while Sri Lanka has entered 564 athletes in 26 disciplines. Moreover, Bangladesh has sent 470 athletes in 25 disciplines, while Pakistan has registered 263 athletes in 18 sports. Bhutan and Maldives are taking part in 18 and 12 disciplines individually.
The Games will award a total of 324 gold and silver each along with 481 bronze and with swimming being at the top with 38 gold medals. Athletics is offering 36 gold medals, while taekwondo is offering 29. Out of the 29 sports disciplines included in the SA Games, paragliding was canceled after the sport failed to get a minimum of three teams.
This is also the first time the country is hosting the Games across three cities which are Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Janakpur.
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