Morang, December 24, 2016:Â The seventh National Games officially kicked off in the eastern region with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari inaugurating the sporting extravaganza amidst a grand opening ceremony at Shahid Maidan Stadium in Biratnagar on Friday.
President Bhandari congratulated the organising committee for making the games possible overcoming several hurdles, including the damage caused to infrastructure by the last yearâ€™s devastating earthquakes.
Minister for Youth and Sports Daljit Sripaili said the event would be a milestone for the development of the region.
National Sports Council Member Secretary Keshab Kumar Bista said the sporting festival would help find new talent. â€œThe government should give priority to sports for the promotion of national unity, as well as for cultural and tourism development,â€ he added.
Members of the participating teams, along with officials, referees and judges took part in the march-past, while 24 ethnic communities presented cultural performances during the opening ceremony. Artists Sumit Khadka and Prashna Shakya presented the theme song of the games, while schoolchildren performed cultural shows.
Olympian shooter Tika Ram Shrestha, who will represent the eastern region in the games, and boxing judge Anup Lama took oath on behalf of players, referees and judges, while Sripaili hoisted the games flag.
Olympian Narendra Pumo lit the cauldron after receiving torch from fellow Olympians.
In all, 3,972 athletes from eight teams five development regions, Tribhuvan Army Club, Nepal Police Club and Nepal APF Club will compete in 30 disciplines. A total of 294 gold, an equal number of silver and 447 bronze medals are at stake.
Sporting events will be held in Sunsari, Morang, Jhapa, Udaypur, Saptari, Siraha, Dhankuta and Kathmandu.