SAG torch relay begins

More than 3500 athletes and officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India are expected to take part in the regional sporting extravaganza.

Sports and Youth Affairs Minister S. Sonowal and Indian Olympic Association president N. Ramachandran handing over the torch before the start of the relay for the South Asian Games at the National Stadium, in New Delhi on Sunday. The South Asian Games willl jointly hosted by Assam and Meghalaya.   -  V. Sudershan

The torch relay of the 12th South Asian Games (SAG), to be held in Guwahati and Shillong from February 5 to 16, kicked off at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Sunday.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President N. Ramachandran handed over the torch to Union Sports Minister and Chairman, Organising Committee, of the Games Sarbananda Sonowal. After lighting the torch, Sonowal gave it over to hockey Olympic gold medallist Zafar Iqbal and Commonwealth Games champion weightlifter N. Kunjurani Devi to begin the relay.

The torch was received by IOA Secretary Ganeral Rajiv Mehta at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Speaking on the occasion, Sonowal said, “The South Asian Games is the symbol of the cohesion, peace and harmony. The sportspersons are the sports ambassadors of their respective countries. These Games will energise the youth.”

Several well-known sportspersons, including P. Gopi Chand, Rajkumar Sangwan, Seema Punia, Krishna Poonia, Manjeet Dua, Neha Aggarwal, Gurbaj Singh, Romeo James, Bahadur Singh, Devinder Bhatia and Bimoljit Singh, and nearly 2000 volunteers and school children participated in the event.

More than 3500 athletes and officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India are expected to take part in the regional sporting extravaganza.

The Games will be telecast live on Doordarshan.