SA Games Open
Saturday, 30 January 2010

The 11th South Asian Games, the greatest sports extravaganza of the region, got underway in Dhaka on Friday.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 12-day event after three and a half hours' opening ceremony at Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) at 4:45pm.

Before the inauguration ceremony that cost about Tk 50 lakh, the event began in the morning through hoisting of national flags of eight participating countries at the SAARC Fountain on Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue at Karwan Bazaar.

Army chief and president of Bangladesh Olympic Association General Md Abdul Mubeen and association's general secretary Kutubuddin Ahmed hoisted the flags.

Nearly 1,800 athletes from eight countries are taking part in the games dubbed 'The Olympics of South Asia'. They will compete in 23 disciplines, which offer 158 gold medals.

The 23 disciplines are: archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, football, golf, handball, hockey, judo, kabaddi, karate, shooting, squash, swimming, cricket, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu.

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.

Around 11,800 school students, 1300 Ansars, 1000 Army men took part in colourful displays at the opening ceremony.

Welcome songs were rendered by renowned singers Sabina Yasmin, Andrew Kishore and Shubhro Dev.

Events are being organised in four other venues– Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet--outside Dhaka. Local organisers arranged the opening functions there.

In the morning, a match between Indian and Sri Lankan football teams was held at Kamlapur Birsreshthha Mostafa Kamal Stadium. India won the game 8-1. Another match was held at the same venue between Bangladesh and Nepal female football teams.

In Chittagong, a match between Indian and Afghanistan football teams started at 3am. Pakistan and Sri Lankan football teams will fight at the Chittagong venue in the morning.

Commonwealth Games gold winning shooter Asif Hossain Khan carried the Bangladesh national flag in the opening ceremony. Bangladesh football captain Aminul Haq and the country's fastest athlete Nazmun Nahar Beauty took oath on behalf of the participating athletes.

BFF and SAFF president Kazi Salahuddin acted as the torch-bearer inside the BNS before lighting the torch tower at the top of the stadium after change of hands by 11 other celebrated local sportsmen.

The Games torch was ignited at the Meghnaghat Power Stadium on Thursday.

National sports award winning swimmer Wing Commodore Rafiqul Islam carried the torch, which was lit by finance minister AMA Muhith and then handed over to another award winning veteran sportsman Bashir Ahmed to carry to the Games venue.

The Bangladesh Olympic Association released nearly 8,000 gallery tickets of Tk 50 each for the opening ceremony. The Games end on Feb 9.


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