KATHMANDU, Dec 1: The 13th South Asian Games (SAG) officially kicked off in the capital on Sunday.
President Bhandari declared the mega sports event in the SAARC region open at 17:57 pm and welcomed the SAG-guests as saying-'Welcome to the guests!'
The inaugural was marked by the march past by the players from the SAARC-member nations. The SAG's torch was brought to the stadium after it was toured in all seven states in the country. In the inaugural, a troupe of 7, 500 artists and students had performed, including the traditional Lakhe dance, in the stadium decked with light, flowers, frills and flags.
Fireworks were also cracked in the event amid the cheers and applause of spectators coming from the jam-packed 30,000-capacity-stadium. The mascot of the 13th SAG- Krishnasaar (Blackbuck Antelope)-was displayed in the inaugural. Held in Nepal for the third time after a gap of 20 years, the last time the regional game had taken place in Nepal in 1999.
Present in the inaugural session were Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chairperson and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal among other dignitaries. Furthermore, in attendance on the occasion were the 13th SAG guests including technical delegates from various countries, tournament directors, referees, judges, technical assistants, media persons and sports lovers from several countries including the host country.
The 10-day event featuring 26 sports' disciplines will be organized in various 30 venues in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur.
Last time, Nepal hosted the regional game back in 1999. The SAG, also known as the Olympics of the south Asian countries had come to existence from Nepal in 1984, where only five sports viz football, boxing, athletics, weightlifting and swimming were included. Nepal had won four gold medals (two in boxing, one in football and one in athletics), 12 silvers and eight bronze to finish fourth.
In 1999, the SAG returned home for the second time as the eighth edition where Nepal won record 31 gold medals, 10 silvers and 24 bronzes in 12 sports disciplines to finish second in medal tally.