KATHMANDU: President Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) amidst a grand ceremony at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu this evening.
SAG is the mega sports event of the countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The inauguration ceremony will last for about three hours and 15 minutes. It will feature march-past by athletes and a variety of cultural programs depicting Nepal’s history, the present and the future perspective.
It will also feature a variety of cultural shows depicting the culture of all seven member countries of the SAARC. National Sports Council, the top sport governing body, has said all the preparations have been completed for the 13th SAG to make it historic, grand and a dignified event.
The program of hoisting the national flags of all seven participating nations has already been held on Saturday.
The 13th SAG is being held from today until December 10 in three cities – Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur. Minister for Youth and Sports Jagat Bahadur Bihwakarma has said every effort would be made to make the 13th SAG a historic, grand and dignified event in a way to raise the country’s prestige and the glory of the sports sector.
More than 15,000 spectators will attend the opening ceremony of the Games. SAG is taken as a sports festival of the countries of South Asia.
The mascot of the 13th SAG features ‘Krishnasar’ (the blackbuck antelope). Athletes from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka will be competing in 26 various sports disciplines in the 13th SAG. Coordinator of the Preparatory Committee, Rim Bahadur Ranabhat said 594 athletes will be participating in the 13th SAG.
Around 18,000 security personnel and 500 volunteers have been mobilized. Nepal has hosted the South Asian mega sports event, SAG, two times before this. It hosted this sports event in 1984 when SAG was founded and then in 1999. Women football, badminton, archery, weight lifting, beach volleyball, triathlon and handball would be held in the touristic city Pokhara while the historic city of Janakpur will host the wrestling matches under the 13th SAG.
Three hundred and seventeen gold medals, an equal number of silver medals and 481 bronze medals are up for grab in the 13th SAG. Nepal has claimed it will clinch the second position in the 13th SAG.
The government has already announced before this that it has significantly increased the prize amount to athletes securing the first position in the Games. Nepal Television will beam live sports competitions. The live coverage can be viewed in more than 15 countries of the world including all countries in South Asia.
The government has made preparations for the SAG this time linking it with the strategic preparation plan for the Visit Nepal Year 2020. Arrangements have been made to provide information about the local culture, customs, language and lifestyle to the guests who will be in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur as part of the 13th SAG. Sports Minister Bishwakarma believes that this program will prepare an important basis for making the Visit Nepal Year 2020 successful.