The much-awaited SBI Khelo India Youth Games 2021, Haryana, got off to a rousing start here on Saturday, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurating the Games during a high-octane Opening Ceremony.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal and Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur led the power-packed audience at the magnificent Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex, which will witness most of the battles for medals over the next 10 days.
Speaking at the opening Shri. Shah said, “I am very happy that Haryana is hosting the fourth edition of the Khelo India Youth Games, a state that is the undisputed Sports Capital of the country. It is the vision of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji to provide all possible support to athletes. The Union government has raised the sports budget from Rs 864 crore in 2014 to Rs 1,992 crore in 2022, and the outcome is pretty evident with the best ever medal haul of 7 at the Tokyo Olympics, a rise of 5 from the earlier edition in 2016. Similarly in the Paralympics, the medals rose from a mere four in 2016 to 19 in 2021.”
Nearly 5000 athletes, including 2,262 girls, will be jostling for gold and glory over the next 10 days in 25 exciting sports, including 5 indigenous games.
The race for supremacy will get underway on Sunday itself, with as many 25 gold medals in weight-lifting, wrestling, cycling, yogasana and gatka up for grabs.
Speaking at the event CM Haryana Shri. Manohar Lal said, “I thank Honourable PM for giving Haryana the opportunity to host KIYG 2021. This is not just a sporting competition but also a melange of cultures because when athletes come here from all over the country they not just bring their sporting skills but also bring their culture with them. The cultural exchange is a wonderful example of the vision of Honourable PM of Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat, where people across the country coming together as one and making the nation strong.”
A 90-minute electrifying show enthralled the packed stadium, with popular Punjabi and Hindi rapper Dilin Nair, better known as Raftaar, performing as the show-stopper and singing the anthem of KIYG 2021 Ab Ki Baar Haryana.
Welcoming the Union Home Minister Shri. Thakur said, “It is a great honour that today we have amongst us Shri. Amit Shah ji whose keen interest in sport has led to the creation of the world’s largest cricket stadium. He is leading the vision of Honourable PM from the front to make India a sporting nation.”
In his speech, Shri. Thakur urged every athlete to put their best foot forward in the Games and said, “Khelo India Youth Games and Khelo India University Games is the outcome of the vision of Honourable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi ji. It is his vision that has ensured that athletes get all the support they need. Be it the Out of Pocket allowance of Rs 10,000 per month for nearly 2500, funding of Rs 5 lakhs for Khelo India athletes training at Khelo India academies or the personalised support to elite athletes through TOPS for training, foreign exposure and an annual allowance of Rs 6 lakhs each, there is 360 degree support. As athletes all you need to do is to play well, you don’t have to worry about your requirements, that will be taken care of by us.”
The show stitched together a high-energy, high-decibel entertainment package, showcasing Haryana’s history and heritage, pomp and prosperity, richness and diversity.
KIYG’s popular mascots, Vijaya the Tiger and Jaya the Blackbuck, came dancing into the arena, setting the tone for the evening. The loudest cheers were, however, reserved for Haryana’s own mascot, Dhakad the Bull.
It was wheeled into the Stadium on a tractor to the catchy strains of ‘Hum, Hum, Hum’, the original Khelo India anthem.
The athletes, on behalf of the participants, took an Olympic-style oath to respect and abide by the rules of the sport and in the spirit of fair play.
Several eminent athletes including Olympic medalist Yogeshwar Dutt, Paralympic Gold medalist Sumit Antil, Paralympic silver medalist Yogesh Kathunia, World championship bronze medalist Manisha Moun were among those who attended the programme to motivate the young participants and took part in the torch relay at the stadium, that was started 25 days ago and has travelled across the state, to finally reach Tau Devi Lal Stadium, the venue which will be the centrepoint of sporting action over the next 10 days.