Nepal is in the midst of the 13th South Asian Games (SAG). With its formal inauguration by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Sunday, the country has become the venue of a mega South Asian event happening in Nepal in 20 years. This is a good opportunity for Nepal to project its positive image in the region. SAG is important for Nepal for a number of reasons. First, this mega event is happening on the eve of Visit Nepal 2020. The event can serve as a platform to create brand ambassadors for tourism promotion. The message around 5,000 delegates and athletes from seven SAARC member countries, who are in the capital at the moment, will take home will be instrumental in increasing publicity of Nepal in this region. Thus, though SAG had to be happened much earlier—it was postponed for two times this year because of the delay in infrastructure construction—the timing seems to be appropriate. Second, SAG is being held in 29 sports venues in three cities—Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur—where competition will be held for as many as 28 sports disciplines, in which players will compete for 324 golds, 324 silvers and 487 bronzes. Most important of all, SAG has very much to do with Nepal than with other countries in South Asia. Nepal became the birthplace of SAG, also known as the Olympics of the south Asian countries, when it held the game for the first time in 1984, where five sports events—football, boxing, athletics, weightlifting and swimming—were conducted.
SAG has become a boon for the country to upgrade its sports infrastructure. Dashrath Stadium, which had been badly damaged by the 2015 earthquake, has been fully rebuilt and it wears a grand new look. Sports infrastructures in Satdobado have also been repaired. By holding SAG events in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur, the sports venue has also been diversified. When the sports delegates and players reach in Pokhara they will surely be impressed by the majestic beauty of the mountains in this touristic town. It will also help promote tourism prospects of Janakpur. On this happy occasion, we would like to welcome all the athletes and delegates who are in Nepal at the moment and wish that they have pleasant stay. We would also like to express Nepali athletes all the best on this occasion.
Nepal as an organizer has to ensure that the participating athletes and delegates will be given the best possible hospitality. Sports have become a symbol of national unity in Nepal. Whenever our players perform well, the nation rises in jubilation. SAG is going to contribute to this sense of unity even further. We also believe that SAG will be an event to consolidate solidarity among the SAARC nations whose relations—barring exceptions—with each other have been cordial. This solidarity could also become the beginning point for SAARC countries to hold SAARC Summit, which remains uncertain. It is for this reason, Nepal, as an organizing country, should not leave any stone unturned to make SAG a grand success. When Nepal successfully completes SAG events, we will be sending a very positive message across South Asia.