Sports

13th South Asian Games: Cricket returns after 8 years

- PRAJWAL OLI, Kathmandu

The South Asian Olympic Committee (SAOC) meeting on Saturday added cricket and paragliding in the 13th South Asian Games (SAG) which Nepal is organising from March 9 to 18.

Saturday’s decision of the meeting now makes the 13th edition of the regional meet a 27-discipline sporting extravaganza. While cricket is making a return to the SA Games after eight years, paragliding has been included for the first time. Bangladesh had last hosted cricket events in the 2010 edition. Cricket will be played as U-23 competition. “The meeting has formally decided to include paragliding and cricket,” revealed a close source under conditions of anonymity.

“Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) will formally disclose the decision of the meeting through a press conference on Sunday. The source, however, declined to elaborate on who proposed the two additional games. The last SAG held in 2016 in India saw 22 different games while the 11th edition in Dhaka featured 23 sports disciplines. National Sports Council (NSC), the country’s supreme body of sports, has decided to host the multi-disciplinary event in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

The SAOC had earlier confirmed to include 25 different disciplines—athletics, basketball, boxing, archery, badminton, cycling, fencing, football, handball, judo, karate, kabaddi, shooting, squash, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, triathlon, volleyball, weight lifting, wrestling, wushu, kho-kho, and golf.
Nepal, who had the rights to add two games by the virtue of being hosts, had included golf and karate. “Cricket is one of the most popular games in whole South Asian region and the meeting reached the conclusion that addition of cricket will help to lift the standard of the whole SAG,” the source informed adding paragliding will help in promoting tourism in Nepal.

The SA Games brings together athletes from eight South Asian countries India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan and Nepal to a single platform. Although the biennial event was originally scheduled to be held in 2018, it was pushed a year later upon host Nepal’s request to prepare infrastructures that have been hit by 2015 Great Quake. However, Nepal still faces the race against time to complete the constructions of new infrastructure and renovations of the older ones. Nepal are hosting the Games for the third time having also hosted the inaugural edition in 1984 and in 1999.

One of the infrastructures undergoing renovations is the iconic Dashrath Stadium which will be holding the opening and closing ceremony of the Games.

After inspection by a team of experts following the April 25 Great Quake, the concrete roof of the VIP parapets has been demolished along with upper part of the stand. Rest of the works are yet to be finished. The two-decade old athletics synthetic track is also awaiting replacement along with the maintenance of floodlights, scoreboards and sound system.


But NSC Member Secretary Keshab Kumar Bista has been reiterating that the country was going to win this race against time. The Chinese government, which had played a major role in face-lifting Dashrath Stadium ahead of 1999 SAG, has again agreed to support Nepal with infrastructural development.

China had laid the synthetic track, installed the floodlights, constructed the scoreboard and installed sound systems ahead of 1999 SAG.  In addition to that, China had also constructed Satdobato International Sports Complex studded with well equipped shooting range and swimming pool. According to Bista, China will be upgrading all the facilities it had installed previously.

“We have reached the last phase of works at the Dashrath Stadium and will finish the renovation works by October,” said the member secretary adding that they will hand over the Stadium on September 1 to the Chinese team for further works.

The Chinese government will replace old synthetic track with new one, repair the broken floodlights, replace the manual scoreboard with digital one and install digital sound system, informed Bista. The Chinese team has already begun upgrading swimming pool and shooting range at the Satdobato Sports Complex.

Published: 2018-07-22 08:48:47