Kathmandu, November 24

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will inaugurate the 13th South Asian Games at the Dasharath Stadium on December 1.

With just seven days remaining for the opening of the regional sporting extravaganza, the Dasharath Stadium is still under construction along with almost all the venues that will be used for 26 sports disciplines.

According to National Sports Council, the sports governing body of the country, President Bhandari will officially declare the Games open in front of dignitaries and athletes from seven nations of South Asia.

The SA Games has the tradition of Head of the State of the host country inaugurating the meet. This is the third time Nepal is hosting the Games in its 35-year history.

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.

Meanwhile, the NSC said Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli would address Nepal’s SAG contingent and announce reward package for the winners on Tuesday. “The address of Prime Minister will be a morale booster for the athletes ahead of the Games,” said NSC Member Secretary Silwal. “The PM will also announce the award package for the medallists,” he added.

As the Dasharath Stadium is under construction, the Ceremony Committee has been using the Nepal APF Club grounds in Halchowk for rehearsal of various shows to be presented during the opening ceremony. The Ceremony Committee is using more than 15,000 artists and performers to present various shows representing all seven provinces of the country during the three-and-half-hour opening ceremony.

NSC Member Secretary Ramesh Kumar Silwal had on November 16 claimed that the Dasharath Stadium would be ready within a week and the grand rehearsal would be held there two days before the opening ceremony.

With the construction works still going on at the Dasharath Stadium, the Ceremony Committee is not likely to get the chance of grand rehearsal at the venue. The NSC is also planning to shift the football match between Nepal and Bangladesh slated for December 1 to another venue to manage more time for preparation.

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 — 597 — 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 — 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 three teams.