Kathmandu, November 26
Finance Minister Yuvaraj Khatiwada today said the government would make substantial increment in the rewards for the 13th South Asian Games medal winning athletes.
Addressing the athletes and officials ahead of the regional sporting extravaganza on behalf of the government, Khatiwada said the increment needed endorsement from the cabinet and asked the Ministry of Youth and Sports to forward suitable proposal. “I can assure you all that the government would make substantial increment in the rewards but Finance Ministry alone cannot do anything in this regard,” said Khatiwada. As per the working procedure of the SAG, the gold, silver and bronze medal winning players get Rs 300,000, Rs 200,000 and Rs 100,000 respectively.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was scheduled to address the athletes and officials and announce the reward package to boost their morale ahead of the SA Games but he could not attend the programme due to his ill health. “The PM was very excited and I was in constant touch with him until this morning,” said National Sports Council Member Secretary Ramesh Kumar Silwal.
“But he had to go to hospital suddenly and the PM instructed Finance Minister Khatiwada to make the announcement on his behalf,” he added.
Silwal requested Finance Minister Khatiwada to provide the NSC with bank’s CSR funds for the development of sports.
“All banks have certain CSR funds and it will be around Rs 600 million if we get 25 per cent of that amount. We can bring visible change in sports fraternity if we get the amount,” said Silwal.
President of South Asia Olympic Council and Nepal Olympic Committee, Jeevan Ram Shrestha said the SA Games was the pride of the nation and it was the responsibility of all the stakeholders to make it a grand success. “We left our mark when Nepal hosted the first and eighth editions of the Games and we should make contribution from our part for the successful organisation for the third time,” said Shrestha.
Meanwhile, the government rewarded the women’s national volleyball team for its historic achievement in the first AVC Asian Central Zone Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship in Bangladesh earlier this month. Finance Minister Khatiwada and Sports Minister Jagat Bahadur Sunar handed over Rs 300,000 each to the 16 members of the team. Nepal had won gold medal in the first edition of the tournament without dropping a single set.
Skipper Aruna Shahi, Pratibha Mali, Saraswoti Chaudhary, Kamala Pun, Reshma Bhandari, Usha Bista, Salina Shrestha, Sunita Khadka, Niruta Thagunna, Punam Chand, Safia Pun and Janaki Bhandari were the players in the team which also included head coach Jagadish Bhatta, assistant coaches Salina Shrestha and Bharat Yadav, and team manager Rita Koirala.
Shahi, who led Nepal to historic title in her first international participation as the captain, will lead the team in SA Games also.
Although the opening ceremony of the SAG is scheduled for December 1, the regional meet will begin on Wednesday with women’s volleyball tournament at the NSC covered hall. Nepal will take on Bangladesh in the inaugural match in the afternoon. The men’s tournament will kick off with the match between Nepal and Bangladesh in the evening at the same venue.
More than 5,000 delegates including athletes will take part in the 10-day regional meet that features 26 sports disciplines. Nepal is fielding the highest number of athletes — 594 — and is the only nation to participate in all sports disciplines. The SA Games offers a total of 1,111 medals — 317 gold, 317 silver and 481 bronze. Out of the 27 sports disciplines included in the SA Games, paragliding was cancelled in the absence of minimum three teams.
A version of this article appears in print on November 27, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.