Curtain rises on 12th SA Games today

Sudipta Ananda
The picture taken on February 1 shows artists perform during a rehearsal for the 12th South-Asian Games opening ceremony at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. — AP photo

The picture taken on February 1 shows artists perform during a rehearsal for the 12th South-Asian Games opening ceremony at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. — AP photo

The curtain of the much-delayed 12th South Asian Games rises at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati, India today with eight countries from the region participating.
Northeastern Indian cities of Guwahati and Shillong will jointly host this year’s games.
The biennial meet was originally scheduled to take place in New Delhi in 2012 but it had to be postponed due to the Delhi elections that year and later the ban on the Indian Olympic Association by the International Olympic Committee.
The last edition of the SA Games was held in Dhaka in 2010.
The first phase of the opening ceremony of the meet will take place in Guwahati today while Shillong will complete their opening formalities the next day.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the 12-day event.
With this year’s Games India is going to host the multi-discipline meet for the third time as they staged the Games in 1987 in Kolkata and 1995 in Madras before.
It will take India level with Bangladesh, who staged the Games in 1985, 1993 and 2010.
Around 2,500 athletes from eight countries will fight for 228 gold medals from 23 disciplines during the games.
Guwahati will stage 16 disciplines in nine venues while Shillong is going to stage seven disciplines in four different venues.
The organisers received a huge blow a day before the opening ceremony when the World Basketball Federation refused to recognise the discipline and asked the participating countries not to take part in the games.
FIBA took the decision on account of the interference by the government and Indian Olympic Association in conducting the discipline in the Games.
Despite being the biggest ever Games as the most number of gold medals are going to be decided in this year’s event, the Games lost some of its glosses after the organisers dropped cricket, golf and karate.
The opening ceremony, where the local organisers are trying to inject the history of Northeast Indian culture, will start at afternoon but the Games will start from today morning with the event of women’s football in Gwuahati.
Bangladesh national women’s football team will begin their campaign against last edition’s runners-up Nepal at the JLN Stadium at 10:00am Bangladesh standard time while Maldives will face Sri Lanka in the following match at the same venue.
A massive 521- member Bangladesh contingent will participate in 22 disciplines – athletics, basketball, cycling, football, handball, hockey, kabaddi, kho kho, shooting, squash, swimming, tennis, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling, archery, badminton, boxing, table tennis, taekwondo and wushu.
Triathlon is only discipline that features no Bangladeshi contestants.
Bangladesh won 18 gold, 24 silver and 55 bronze medals in the last edition at home.

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