Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 5 February 2016 declared the 12th South Asian Games 2016 open at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati, Assam.
In his address, Modi said that the South Asian Games demonstrate 3-Ts and they are Team Work, Togetherness and Talent.
Earlier the players of all 8-participating nations marched past a crowd of thousands who cheered for them with applause. Squash Player Gaurav Ghoshal was the flag bearer of the 521-member Indian contingent.
12th South Asian Games open
• Over 2500 athletes from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives will be part of the games that will be co-hosted by Meghalaya Capital, Shillong.
• A total of 228 events in 23 sports disciplines will be played during the games for the next 11 days.
• Games slogan is ‘Play for Peace, Progress and Prosperity’.
• Tikhor, a one-horned rhino that represents endangered fauna of Assam found in Kaziranga National Park is the official mascot of the event.
• India is hosting the game for the third time. First was held in 1987 in Kolkata, West Bengal and second time in 1995 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
• The 12th South Asian Games, 2016 is the first international multi-sporting mega event in the North Eastern region.
Major highlights of the event
• The inauguration ceremony was started by the team parade.
• The participating nations, decked out in their traditional dresses made their way into the ground amidst huge cheers from the packed audience.
• Each participating nations carried waters from one of their major rivers and the Indian Ocean.
• The waters were later merged into the Brahmaputra, symbolizing the confluence of the nations and the way forward in harmony and togetherness.
• Star Shooter Gagan Narang started the torch relay which was finished by veteran Footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, who lit the flame for the games.
• The top athletes including Anju Bobby George, Monalisa Mehta, Bhogeshwar Baruah, Rani Nagpal and Krishna Punia also took part in the relay.
• The cultural show of the game started with the theme song of the Games, ‘Ai Prithibi Ek Krirangan’.
• A colourful performance by dancers from across India depicting the rich cultural heritage of the country was also the highlight of the ceremony. The ceremony also presented different dance forms of the North East.
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What: Declared open
When: 5 February 2016