KOCHI/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: :The successful conduct of the 35th National Games has fetched Kerala a handsome reward. The state will host the 12th South Asian (SAF) Games. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), held in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“Kerala has been chosen to host the Games. Though it will mainly be a Thiruvananthapuram-centered event, there will be venues also in places including Kollam and Alappuzha,” Kerala Olympic Association (KOA) secretary, P A Hamza, told Express over phone from New Delhi.
It is learnt that Assam, the first choice for the Games, pulled back citing under-preparedness to host the multi-sport event.
Though the exact schedule is yet to be finalised, the event is expected to be held in the November-December window. It is for the first time that Kerala has been picked for hosting the Games, which will see participation in 22 disciplines by athletes from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives, apart from regional giant India who have been champions in all 11 previous editions.
“The state government had offered full support to the KOA in bringing the event to Kerala. Since we had set up good facilities for the National Games, the state is in a good position to host the Games,” said KOA president M M Abdul Rahiman.
As was the case with the National Games, the University Stadium in the state capital is expected to host the SAF Games too.
“Since Kerala now has the necessary infrastructure, the Games can be conducted with a budget of Rs 70 crore. The amount will be shared by the Centre and state governments,” Hamza added.