National Games begins with a colourful opening ceremony

Tapan Mohanta

Ranchi, Feb 12 (PTI) An agonising wait of four years andsix postponements later, the 34th National Games finally gotoff with a colourful opening ceremony at the Birsa MundaAthletics Stadium here today.

Organisational chaos and mismanagement took some sheenoff the opening ceremony but singer Sukhwinder Singh andBollywood artists Vivek Oberoi and Ameesha Patel''s rivetingperformances ensured that the spectators were enthralled atthe three-hour programme.

A spectacular laser show towards the end of the openingceremony brought the spectators on to their feet in the MegaSports Complex in the outskirts of the city.

The timing of the February 12-26 National Games clashingwith the much-awaited Cricket World Cup in the sub-continentproved to be a dampener as the premier multi-disciplinecompetition of the country failed to generate a keen mediainterest nationwide.

As announced earlier, star son of Ranchi, Mahendra SinghDhoni could not take part in the opening ceremony due to TeamIndia commitments, though performances by Bollywood and localartists, laser shows and spectacular fireworks at the endfilled in the void.

Amid vociferous chants of Jai Jharkhand, the state''schief minister Arjun Munda made a sincere appeal to forgetabout the torrid build-up to the National Games which was injeopardy having missed deadlines after deadlines.

"Chhodo Kal ki batein, kal ki baat purani. Naye daur meinlikhenge milkar nayi kahaani Hum hindustani, hum hindustani,"Munda sang the popular song in his speech that saw loud cheersfrom the crowd.

Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi wasat his usual hyperbole, saying, "10,000 athletes and officialsare taking part here. This is world''s best infrastructure.

This is going to be the biggest National Games ever. I''m veryhappy that you have got all the good facilities."

The three-hour opening ceremony began with aerobaticsahead of the formal programme as chief guest Governor ofJharkhand M O H Farook, Kalmadi, Munda and Jharkhand OlympicAssociation president arrived at the near-packed venue thathas a 35,000 seating capacity.

With the National Anthem played in the background, floralwelcome was showered on the chief guests as the Governordeclared the Games open as tricolour balloons were released inthe sky while white pigeons were set free.

The first hour of the ceremony was all about themarch-past of the athletes and speeches by the dignitariesincluding that of Munda, Kalmadi and Jharkhand OlympicAssociation President R K Anand, among others. .

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