The energy and vibrancy of the youth of the region was showcased in brilliant fashion and in a true north-eastern way — dotted with glitz, glamour and technology in even measure — as the 12th South Asian Games was declared open at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, Sarusajai, here on Friday evening. Conceived with a lot of thought and imagination and performed with precision, the 170-minute long programme was, as usual in a multi-discipline event of this magnitude, segregated into two parts, with the sports protocol taking precedence over the cultural extravaganza. the entry gates being closed about 90 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony for security reasons, the stadium did not draw the expected full house and this was quite a dampener to the start of an event in which 3,275 athletes and officials from all the eight countries in the region are participating. The programme got going with the arrival of the day’s dignitaries and the chief guest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was welcomed with the sounding of bugles and a pleasing ovation. The entry of the teams led by the Games mascot, Tikhor, and starting with Afghanistan and followed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was also greeted with warm applause which reached a crescendo as the Indian contingent marched in. The team, with the women athletes smartly attired in turquoise blue sarees and the men in grey and blue, was led by squash ace Saurav Ghosal.


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