13th South Asian Games opening a Nepali grandeur (Photo Feature)

KATHMANDU, Dec 1: The 13th South Asian Games has begun with a grand opening with fanfare at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari announced the official commencement of the biggest ever sporting mega event of the South Asia at 17: 57 pm and welcomed the visiting guests.

President Bhandari was the official guest along with various other dignitaries present on the occasion.

Olympians, athletes and delegation from the seven SAARC member countries performed march past to mark the inaugural of the event while an olympic torch was relayed around the stadium before olympian Deepak Bista lit the olympic flame.

About 5000 delegates and athletes from seven countries are participating in over 28 sports disciplines (including beach volleyball and 3´3 basketball), which will be held in 29 sports venues in three cities viz. Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur. About 3,000 athletes will compete for 324 golds, 324 silvers and 487 bonzes.

This is the third time Nepal is hosting the SAG. The regional games originated from Nepal in 1984. The eighth edition was also held in Nepal, where Nepal had won record 31 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 24 bonze medals in 12 events to finish second.

Also, this is the first time Nepal is hosting the SAG in three cities. Pokhara will host archery, badminton, handball, triathlon, beach volleyball, weightlifting and women’s football and cricket. Janakpur is hosting wrestling while Kathmandu is hosting the rest of the events.

The performances concluded with famous artist Deepak Bajracharya playing his fusion of Nepali classical and pop. Performers with their cultural outfits and the traditional and famous Lakhe dance.

Sources have reported that Prime Minister K.P.Sharma Oli who is currently hospitalized due to his surgery caught the entire opening ceremony on television.

(Photos – Mukunda Kalikote for Reporters Nepal)