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Gujarat gears up for 36th National Games with 36 sporting events

Beginning on Sept 27, the 14-day event will see over 7,000 sportspersons

Gujarat | sports | Top 10 headlines

Vinay Umarji  |  Ahmedabad 

National Games 2022
National Games 2022 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Thirty-six. It is a number that is taking very seriously as it prepares to host the 36th National Games in a week from now. The event, which begins on September 27, will feature 36 – the highest for any edition of the National Games so far – and over 7,000 athletes from 36 states and Union Territories.

"Along with coaches and support staff, more than 12,000 participants are expected at the National Games," said Ashwani Kumar, principal secretary to the government in the sports, youth & cultural activities department.

Roughly Rs 150-200 crore has been spent so far as part of infrastructure upgradation, accommodation and logistics for the athletes, coaches and the support staff.

What worked for is that it did not have to spend on creating new sporting infrastructure for the event. "We simply had to upgrade the existing infrastructure, which helped us save a lot of money,” Kumar said, adding that the government also saved time “by planning and executing such a massive event in less than three months".

The National Games 2022 are being organised across six cities: Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Gandhinagar.

The 36 games that the event will feature include, besides athletics, field hockey, football, volleyball and tennis. There will also be traditional such as kabaddi, kho kho and yogasana.

The previous editions – in 2011 and 2015, held in Jharkhand and Kerala, respectively – had featured 33 .

With an Asiatic lion named Saavaj as its mascot, Gujarat has been building momentum around the Games. It is hosting pre-games activation programmes across schools and colleges as well as sports carnivals across the state.

"Through sports-related activities and cultural programmes during these carnivals, we have been able to encourage people's participation and create a buzz around the upcoming National Games,” Kumar said.

To drive youth engagement, an “activation campaign” is under way across 33,000 schools and 2,500 universities and colleges.

That said, key international Indian athletes and sportspersons like Neeraj Chopra, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are reportedly likely to give the National Games a miss. Gujarat government sources maintained that this would not be a dampener. "The state government's own sports programme as well as India's improved performance in international sports in recent times have created enough buzz for participation from athletes and spectators across the country," a senior state government official said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the National Games from the Narendra Modi Stadium (formerly Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Cricket Stadium, it was renamed in 2021) in Ahmedabad. The event will be held over a period of 14 days till October 10.

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First Published: Mon, September 19 2022. 11:58 IST