Nepal President Bhandari declares South Asian Games open

Kathmandu, Dec 1 (PTI) The 13th South Asian Games formally kicked off on Sunday with Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari declaring them open during a colourful ceremony at the Dasharath Stadium here.

Bhandari's formal announcement to open the Games featuring the seven South Asian nations was followed by fireworks and cultural shows at a gala function. The opening ceremony began with the march-past by the athletes.

Around 15,000 spectators attended the opening ceremony which was held amid tight security.

The SAG is being held from December 1 to 10 in three cities -- Kathmandu, Pokhara and Janakpur -- with the participation of around 2700 athletes.

Athletes from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka will be competing in 26 different sports disciplines.

Krishnasar (the blackbuck antelope) is the official mascot of the 13th SAG.

During the 10-day Games, the athletes will compete for 1119 medals, including 319 gold.

Addressing the audience during the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwor Pokharel said the SAG will help promote friendship and cooperation among the South Asian countries. PTI SBP PDS PDS