Meghalaya, Assam to host SAF Games this year

Meghalaya, Assam to host SAF Games this year

SHILLONG: After much wait, the venue of the 12th edition of the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games which is tentatively to be held in the last week of November this year will be co-host by Meghalaya and Assam. The final decision was taken at a meeting which was held at New Delhi on June 8.

It may be mentioned that the last SAF Games were held in Dhaka in 2010 and India were to host the next edition in 2012. However, the Games got postponed after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was banned by the IOC.

The ban was revoked last year after fresh elections to the body and now plans are afoot to ensure that the Games are held this year in November.The estimated budget for which is Rs 60 crore. The IOA has asked the centre to fund Rs 40 crore.

'It is confirmed that Meghalaya is also set to co-host the SAF Games with Assam. The mega sports event is likely to be held sometime in the last week of November," Sports and Youth Affairs department secretary FR Kharkongor who attended the meeting at New Delhi told newsmen here on Thursday while admitting that it is great opportunity for the State to be able to host  this kind of big event for the first time.

Informing that the last edition of the game was held in Dhaka in 2010, Kharkongor said that it was the turn of Bhutan to host the games."After Bhutan expresses its inability to host the games, India then bit to host the games. As part of the Look East Policy, the Centre wanted that the games should be held in the North East," he said.

Sports and Youth Affairs department secretary said that the team from the IOA and Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs in February this year had come to the State to inspect on the infrastructures and venues which were there in the state in February.

After the inspection, he said that the officials from the IOA and the Ministry found that Meghalaya is fit to host the indoor games while the outdoor games will be held in Assam during the event.He also informed that the venue which has been approved to cost the event include SAI Special Area Games at NEHU, NEIGRHIMs indoor stadium and JN Complex indoor stadium.

"As a follow up, the State Government on its part sent its consent to the Centre to express its keenness to co-host at the event. But the matter got delayed since Assam had initially expressed its inability to co-host the event.  After this, there was proposal to host the games in Kerala," Kharkongor said.

He said that the decision was again change after Assam finally gives its consent to co-host the games."After this development, a meeting was convened in Delhi on June 8 and it was decided that the games will be held in last part of November," Sports and Youth Affairs department secretary said adding that if the event it was latter part, it will be too cold for the players considering the weather of Shillong.

Meanwhile, Kharkongor said that there are seven events to be held in Meghalaya which include judo, wushu, archery, boxing, taekwondo, table tennis, badminton.

According to him, there is an expectation that the people might be more attracted towards boxing and badminton considering India has players who performed outstanding well in the international arena like Mary Kom, Vijender Singh, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and P Kashyap.

While admitting that there were will be challenges and difficulties considering that they have a limited time to prepare for the mega event, he said that with the assistance of the IOA and Ministry of Sports and Youths Affairs, they will be able to overcome those challenges.

In view of the logistic with the State not having the airport, he said that the Centre have taken cognizance of his fact.

"With the four laning of the Shillong-Guwahati road, the condition of the NH-40 has vastly improved. Travelling will not be a problem since it is only a two and half hour journey from Guwahati to Shillong," he said while also informing that both the opening and closing ceremony will be held in Assam.

Sports and Youth Affairs department secretary also informed that a total number of 3000 athletes along with officials representing various SAARC countries are expected to participate in this mega event.

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