A spectacular opening ceremony, highlighting the country’s desire to emerge as a soft power in sports and Gujarat’s superb organizational skills, marked the formal inauguration of the 36 th National Games at the Narendra Modi Stadium here on Thursday.
The event, a remarkable show of light and sound covered by 50 Doordarshan cameras which were employed on a short notice of 15 days, enthralled more than one lakh spectators at the world’s biggest cricket venue – which was turned into a mega platform for the sporting extravaganza featuring more than 8000 athletes from across the country.
Inaugurating the National Games, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need to make the country a sports power. “The victory of the players, their strong performance, also paves the way for victory for the country in other fields. The soft power of sports enhances the country’s identity and image manifold,” he said.
Modi highlighted his Government’s wholehearted support for sportspersons and sports, including the indigenous ones.
While patting the Gujarat government on its back for the prompt hosting of the Games, the Prime Minister virtually inaugurated the Swarnim Gujarat Sports University to be established in Vadodara. He said the Games mascot, Savaj (the Lion), reflected the mood of fearless participation among Indian youth.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel stressed his state’s initiative for the use of technology in sports and skill development in sports.
Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta said the conduct of the Games on a short notice would push the country to try hosting the 2036 Olympics.
Tennis player Ankita Raina took the oath on behalf of the athletes at the ceremony, also attended by top sportspersons such as Neeraj Chopra, P.V. Sindhu, Gagan Narang, Ravi Dahiya, Mirabai Chanu and Anju Bobby George.
The colourful event – juxtaposing traditional performances with the advanced augmented reality technology – began with musical shows by different artistes, including Mohit Chauhan and Shankar Mahadevan, and went on to exhibit a virtual ‘Torch of unity’ and march past by the participating teams.
It concluded with attractive Gujarati folk dance ‘garbha,’ coinciding with the Navaratri celebrations, to the tunes of popular Hindi film songs.