Largest SAG begins with grand opening

Published On: December 2, 2019 07:55 AM NPT By: Rajan Shah

Nepal fielding highest number of athletes — 596 — in all 28 sports disciplines
KATHMANDU, Dec 2: President Bidya Bhandari inaugurated the 13th edition of South Asian Games (SAG) at Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday. The 28 sports disciplines and record number of more than 2000 athletes participating in the event have made this edition the largest ever. 

Bhandari expressed her best wishes for the Games after brief speeches from Sports Minister and President of main organizing committee Jagat Bahadur Bishwakarma, 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.

“I hereby announce the beginning of the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) wishing its grand organization by Nepal,” said Bhandari during the opening ceremony.

The ceremony kicked off with the march-past by athletes of respective countries led by official mascot, Krishnasar [black buck], of the 13th SAG. The seven original SAARC countries are participating. 

More than 10,000 spectators attended the ceremony including thousands of security personnel and volunteers to make the ceremony a grand success. Dance and song performances were popular attractions amid vivid colorful lights and fireworks display. 

Four times gold medalist Deepak Bista lighted the giant torch to officially kick-off the Games. Former national cricket team captain Paras Khadka took the oath representing players whereas international badminton referee Deepak Thapa took the oath representing referees who will be officiating the events.

The opening ceremony lasted 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 fielding the highest number of athletes – 596 – in all 26 sports categories (28 disciplines).

According to 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. Likewise, Bangladesh has sent 470 athletes in 25 disciplines, while Pakistan has registered 263 athletes in 18 sports. Bhutan (116) and Maldives (216) are taking part in 18 and 12 disciplines respectively.

The Games will offer a total of – 324 gold and silver each along with 481 bronze – 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 cancelled after the sport failed to get minimum of three teams.

This is also the first time the country is hosting the Games across three cities: Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur.

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