The 13th edition of the South Asian Games formally began with an opening ceremony at Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday. The ten-day sporting carnival will see the athletes of South Asia competing for glory in 26 different sports categories.
This is the third time Nepal has hosted the Games. Besides the inaugural edition in 1984, Nepal had hosted the 8th edition of the regional games in 1999.
This time the mascot of the 13th SAG features 'Krishnasar' (the blackbuck antelope). More than 5,000 delegates including 3,250 athletes are going to take part in the 10-day regional meet that features twenty six sports disciplines. Nepal is fielding the highest number of athletes – 597 – and is the only nation to participate in all sports disciplines.
The 12th SA Games gold-winning swimmer Mahfuza Khatun Shila carried the Bangladesh national flag on behalf of Bangladesh in the opening ceremony.
A 621-member strong Bangladesh contingent will represent in the regional meet which will be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara with Bangladesh will take part in twenty-five disciplines out of twenty-six in the South Asian regional biggest extravaganza.
The twenty-five disciplines are archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, football, golf, fencing, Kho Kho, handball, hockey, judo, kabaddi, karate, shooting, squash, swimming, cricket, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu.
The South Asian Federation Games began from Kathmandu in 1984 and Nepal hosted the eighth edition of the Games in 1999. Late King Birendra inaugurated the Games on both occasions. The SAF Games was renamed to SA Games from the 10th edition held in Colombo in 2006.
The SA Games offers a total of 1,115 medals – 317 gold, 317 silver and 481 bronze – with swimming being at the top with 38 gold medals. Out of the 27 sports disciplines included in the SA Games, paragliding was cancelled in the absence of minimum of three teams.