By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Feb 4: The Northeast is set for the biggest ever sporting extravaganza in the region.
The 12th edition of the South Asian Games (SAG) - also billed as the first gender equal Games - will kick off on Friday.
Over 3,000 delegates from eight tions, including India, will be participating in 12-day event to be jointly hosted by Guwahati and Shillong.
Prime Minister rendra Modi will iugurate the Games here tomorrow at a glittering ceremony which will showcase the diverse culture of Northeast India as well as participating countries.
A separate opening ceremony will also be held at Shillong on February 6 for the events being played there.
SAARC tions mely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be participating in the Games.
The SAARC tions comprise 21% of the world's total population and around 9.12% of global economy. The SAARC is a platform for the people of South Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding so as to achieve lasting peace and prosperity of its member tions.
Altogether 228 events in 23 Sports disciplines will be played during the Games and 228 gold medals, 228 silver medals and 308 bronze medals will be given away. The basketball event has been derecognized by the Intertiol Basketball Federation.
The 16 sports disciplines that will be played at Guwahati are athletics, basketball, volleyball, swimming, triathlon, hockey, weightlifting, wrestling, squash, shooting, kho kho, kabaddi, handball, cycling and tennis.
Shillong will host the archery, badminton, boxing, judo, table tennis, taekwondo and wushu events.
Men's football will be played at Guwahati and women's football at Shillong.
While India and Sri Lanka will be participating in all 23 disciplines, Nepal and Bangladesh will be playing in 22 disciplines. Pakistan will be competing in 21 disciplines, Afghanistan in 16 disciplines and Bhutan and Maldives in nine each.
Altogether 3,333 delegates, comprising players and officers, will be participating in the Games, with the Indian contingent with 703 members being the largest.
As many as 1,105 women players will be taking part along with 1,377 males in the Games, which is being promoted as a gender equal games with emphasis on participation of women players and teams in all events.
Among the participating tions, the teams of Maldives and Nepal have more women players than men.
With a total of 900 golds in its kitty, India have been champions in all the previous eleven editions of the event. While the other seven teams have participated in all the past editions, Afghanistan will be participating in the event for the third time.
For conduct of the Games, an organizing committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Sarbanda Sonowal, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports (I/C), and N Ramachandran, President, Indian Olympic Association as co - chairman.
The Games logo consists of 8 petals representing the 8 countries participating in the Games. The colours of the petals are from the flags of the 8 countries.
The games mascot 'Tikhor', a rhino cub, is sharp, ughty, sporty and modern. He is a motivator, friend and messenger of peace, progress & prosperity.
The theme song is 'Ei Prithibi Ekhon Krirangon, Krira Hol Shantir Prangon' by music maestro, late Dr Bhupen Hazarika, which promotes sports as a symbol of peace and unifying factor.
The song has been translated in official languages of all SAARC tions and will be sung in each of these languages.