Friday, 29 January 2010

SAF games kicks off in Bangladesh

The 11th South Asian Games kicks off Friday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opening the greatest sporting extravaganza of the region releasing pigeons, the symbol of peace.

“The 11th South Asian Games is opened,” she said while colourful balloons swarmed the skyline of the Bangabandhu National Stadium in seconds to mark the announcement.

(Click here to see Final SAF Games medal tally)

In brief inaugural comments, she said Bangladesh was proud to host the South Asia’s biggest sports event while she welcomed the players.

Bangladesh commandeered the South Asian Nation stage Friday celebrating its third-time role as host with a stunning display of pageantry and pyrotechnics to unrivaled in the games’ history at Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS).

The country welcomed scores of South Asian and Asian sports dignitaries to an opening ceremony watched by nearly 25,000 people at the eye-catching National Stadium and a potential audience of half a billion in the South Asia region. It was depicted as the largest, costliest extravaganza in SA Games history.

The parade of athletes concluded with the entry of the 453-strong Bangladesh team, led by flag-bearer former ace shooter, Commonwealth Games gold medalist Asif Hossain Khan.

The opening of the 12-day event was preceded by hoisting of national flags of eight participating nations at the SAARC Fountain on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue at Karwan Bazaar.

As part of the ceremony the SA Games Torch went around the stadium as it was carried by 1971 Liberation War veterans and a number of sport stars and eventually installed on a makeshift stand by president of Bangladesh Football Federation Kazi Salahuddin.

Bangladesh is hosting the meet for the third time after staging it in 1985 and 1993 when the Games were formerly known as South Asian Federation (SAF) Games while the symbol of this year’s games is “Kutum” (relative).

The extravaganza is likely to be the largest sporting event in Bangladesh as well as South Asia, while it could only be eclipsed by the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi of India.

Bangladesh has enrolled a contingent of 453 members in the Games which is the highest. Surprisingly Nepal has inserted the second highest number of 430 participants ahead of India who has included 423 in their contingent.

The number of Sri Lankan contingent is 419 while Pakistan contingent contains 388. Afghanistan has a contingent of 176 and the number of Maldives contingent is 155. Himalayan kingdom Bhutan has the lowest number of athletes in their contingent numbering only 67.

Nearly 1,800 athletes from eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – joined the games considered “South Asian Olympic” to compete in 23 disciplines, which offer 158 gold medals.

The 23 official sports for the 11th SAF Games: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Cricket, Cycling, Football, Golf, Hockey, Handball, Judo, Kabaddi, Karate, Shooting, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling and Wushu.

1 comments:

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