New Delhi, Aug 1 (UNI) The 'Youth Baton Relay' of the third Commonweath Youth Games (CYG), to be held in Pune this October, was flagged off here today from Delhi University, North Campus Sports Complex.
The relay will cover nine colleges in Delhi and tour 199 cities in nine states before arriving in Pune on the inaugural day of the event on October 12 - travelling a total disance of 8000 km in 73 days.
The relay was flaged off by a unique process of handing over the 'Baton' from Jigrr, the mascot of the Games to Chairman of Organising Committee of CYG Pune 2008 and CWG 2010 Suresh Kalmadi.
The Baton then passed through the hands of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dixit before Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports M S Gill finally handed it over to former hockey legend Dhanraj Pillai, the first Baton bearer.
Speaking on the occasion, the Delhi Chief Minister said with the relay visiting different colleges here, it is a great honour and opportunity for the students to take a glance of the 'Baton'.
''It is also a kind of trailer for the big 2010 Commmonwealth Games, to be held first time in Delhi,'' Dixit said, while congratulating the sportspersons for the CYG 2008 adding, ''we expect many medals in Pune.'' Echoing the same view, Kalmadi said, ''The countdown has begun for the CYG 2008 with the Baton relay starting here today. Infact, no other place could have given the Games a better start else than DU.
And also today, its the birth anniversary of a great freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, so it is a big day to start the relay.'' ''The Baton Relay aims to promote 'Olympics sports', 'Green Games' and 'Save the Tiger','' he added, ''Thats why we have associated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to promote the concept.'' The Sports Minister, on his part, said the relay is going to be great fun, exciting many who have interest in sports.
''I hope the relay would encourage more Indians to participate in sports,'' Gill added.
To mark and add colours to the flag-off ceremony, spectacular live concerts by Rabbi Shergil and Palash Sen along with his band Euphoria and evergreen numbers was also organised by Government of Delhi.
The relay, which will see 6000 selected sportspersons participating, will collect water and saplings from every state enroute to be used for the spectacular 'Fountain of Youth' and 'Garden of Youth'. A team consisting of 80 crew and 26 vehicles- 'Special Green Vehicles'- will escort the Baton from Delhi to Pune.
All the 71 Commonwealth nations with over 1,300 athletes aged below 18 and 350 officials will participate in nine disciplines at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports City, Balewadi, in Pune.
The Games will conclude on October 18.
UNI PY AB RN1633