South Asian Games to be 'gender equal'

Sports Secretary Rajiv Yadav welcomed the greater participation of women in the 12th edition to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Preparation is going on in full swing at the Saruhojai Main Stadium.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

The Union Sports Ministry has projected the coming South Asian Games (SAG) in Guwahati and Shillong as the most ‘gender equal’ Games in the history of the event.

Sharing details of contingents, Sports Secretary Rajiv Yadav welcomed the greater participation of women in the 12th edition to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The difference between the number of male and female athletes of some countries is very less. Besides, Sri Lanka is sending the largest contingent after India,” said Yadav addressing a press conference here on Monday.

Altogether 2482 athletes, including 1105 women, from eight countries will compete in the 12-day event.

While India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh have fielded hundreds of women athletes, Nepal and Maldives have chosen more women than men.

Yadav said the ministry was not putting any pressure on the National Sports Federations (NSFs) to field their best athletes.

“International sports calendars are very tight. Some athletes were finding it difficult (to participate in the SAG). We wrote to the NSFs with abundant caution. We tried to impress upon the federations to field balanced teams. Otherwise you may find that even in SAG we have come second and there will be a lot of hue and cry.”

Asked whether the Ministry had learnt from the scam-ridden 2010 Commonwealth Games to keep the costs in check, Yadav said Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who is heading the SAG organising committee, was careful on this aspect.

“Our overall expenditure will be much less than that of the (2007 Guwahati) National Games. The infrastructure cost was Rs. 400 crore for the National Games.

“This time it is Rs 60 crore, including the laying of a new hockey turf in Guwahati, laying of natural turf in the Nehru Stadium and building of new squash courts.”

Number of athletes from each country:

Afghanistan: Male: 102 (in 16 disciplines), Female: 49 (in 10 disciplines), Total: 151; Bangladesh: Male: 223 (22), 147 (18), 370; Bhutan: 58 (9), 27 (7), 85; India: 276 (23), 245 (23), 521; Maldives: 72 (9), 79 (9), 151; Nepal: 190 (22), 191 (23), 381; Pakistan: 205 (21), 141 (19), 346; Sri Lanka: 251 (23), 226 (23), 477.