Gulmarg, Feb 19: The Fifth National Winter Games kicked off here with over 500 sportspersons are taking part. The five-day event is also aimed at giving a fillip to tourism in the state.
"It is wonderful that Gulmarg is organizing Winter Games, but next I want to have international games here," said Suresh Kalmadi, the President of the Indian Olympic Association. As many as 17 teams, including Jammu and Kashmir, are participating in the event. The other teams are from Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, New Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. Teams from the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indian Navy and the Indian Army are also taking part.
Events like slalom, giant slalom and snowboard in alpine skiing, freestyle (men and women) in cross-country, figure skating, speed skating (men and women) and ice hockey for men in skating rink category are part of the games.
State Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who inaugurated the carnival on Monday, said: "The games are not widely popularized and many times people stay out, saying Kashmir is not safe. Today is the time to tell people across the world that Kashmir is safe."
The games will conclude on February 22.
The National Winter Games are being organised for the third time at Gulmarg, about 55 kilometers from Srinagar. Gulmarg has hosted the event in 1998 and 2004.