Kerala seeks to host South Asian Games

Thiruvananthapuram, June 4 (IANS) Following the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) go-ahead to Kerala to host the 12th South Asian Games, the Kerala government has written to the Centre for the second time expressing desire to host the event in November this year.

Supposed to be held every alternate year since it began in 1984, the event, formerly known as the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games, was last held in Dhaka in 2010.

The 23-event Games would see around 2,500 athletes from the eight member-countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Kerala Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told IANS this is the second time the state government has written to union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonwal, expressing the desire to host the Games.

“Yes, we have again asked permission to host the South Asian Games because we feel that no other state is as much ready as we are. We received allround appreciation from every sporting corner about the way we conducted the recent National Games. If we are allowed, then it would be a fine appreciation for each and every one associated with the conduct of the National Games,” said Radhakrishnan.

Sonowal, who hails from Assam, is believed to be keen to host the South Asian Games in his home state and has already put up a proposal to split the event between Assam and Meghalaya.

An expert in conduct of mega-sporting events told IANS on condition of anonymity that even if money is pumped into the two north-eastern states, the necessary infrastructure cannot be made ready due to the monsoon season, which begins soon.

“This event is scheduled for the month of November and as of now these two states do not have facilities for holding the ‘trap and skeet’ event as well as shooting events. And whatever happens, this facility just cannot be put up in the short time ahead,” he said.

Besides, since international athletes are arriving, especially from Afghanistan and Pakistan, “providing high security cover for the athletes is also not an easy task in the two north-eastern states,” said the expert.

With fewer events for the South Asian Games as compared to the National Games, Kerala, if given the opportunity, will be able to hold all the events in three districts where international quality facilities already exist, officials said.

“The money is not an issue because it’s the pride of being selected to play the host that is more important. I will never blame Sonowal because every politician will like to do things for his state and he has always taken a consistent stand. Nevertheless we are hopeful that the Centre will allow us to go ahead,” said Radhakrishnan.

If Kerala gets the nod, it would be given around Rs.70 crore from the Centre to stage the event.

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