CHENNAI: Despite protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act disrupting normal life in Guwahati, the third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games, that were scheduled to be held in the city from January 10, will go forward as planned. Last week curfew was imposed in almost all major cities in the state when thousands protested against the CAA.
Avinash Joshi, CEO of the Games, revealed that while a couple of days of preparation was lost due to the protests, everything was going as planned. "The Games are on track. We lost 2-3 days in between because of the agitation but now things are back on track and will be held on time. Things are at an advanced stage so interruption of 2-3 days will not affect things. (The necessary) equipments will be in place and all our preparation will be on time," he said
According to an official press release, welcome desks are being organised at railway stations, bus stands and Guwahati airport. There will be a helpline number for accommodation, catering and meals during the event for all athletes.
Joshi’s statements come after speculation that the protests rocking Guwahati could lead to a postponement of the Games. A number of sporting events including Ranji Trophy matches and Indian Super League games had been cancelled or postponed in Assam and other north-eastern states owing to the protests.
However, one domestic cricket match continued with help of local authorities and protesters while curfew was still imposed in Guwahati and other places. Joshi though was quick to dismiss any such fears regarding Khelo India. “We do not anticipate any security concerns during the event,” he said.
Around 7000 students and 3000 officials will be participating in the Games in January. “We have a sufficient number of hotels and they are already tied up," he said. The ninety-minute opening ceremony will feature an hour of cultural programs with officials expecting around 25000 people in attendance.
A meeting of the Chefs de Mission of the various states participating in the event was held in the city on Wednesday. The representatives will inspect the facilities in the city on Thursday and have a debriefing meeting in the afternoon. “Almost all chef de missions of the states participated in the meeting where we reviewed preparations and took their suggestions into consideration,” Joshi said.
The closing ceremony is on January 22. Athletes will compete in a total of 20 sports including new additions - lawn bowls and cycling. Considering that this is the flagship programme of the sports ministry, efforts will be on to host a successful Khelo India.
Special anti-doping drive
The National Anti-Doping Agency had to conduct a special drive to empanel dope control officers to meet the increased demand that will come with the Khelo India Games, sources close to the organisation revealed.
"We need a lot many DCOs there, so we had to conduct a special drive to empanel them," sources said. NADA was a huge presence in the Khelo India Games last season, carrying out 476 tests, of which there were a number of positive tests.