The South Asian Games 2016 will get underway on Friday at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati amid plenty of euphoria. From dance performances to traditional songs, the North-East Indian flavour will be at the highest level during the Opening Ceremony of the 11-day long event.
To be inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Opening Ceremony is set to feature the Bihu dance – which is a typical dance form popular in Assam – as well as a musical performance by well-known Assamese singer Papon and his band.
The theme song of the 12th Asian Games is "Ei Prithibi ek Krirangan" (The world is a sporting arena), written by the late Dr Bhupen Hazarika, referred to as one of the legends of folk music in the country.
Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia, Krishna Poonia, Gagan Narang, and Anju Bobby George, as well as a host of regional sportspersons will be seen running with the torch during the Opening Ceremony, before PM Modi declares the games "open".
"The opening ceremony will be a glittering one. It will last for around two hours and 45 minutes. It will be a well planned and well rehearsed event and we have put a lot of effort but at the same time managed to do it in a tight budget," Injeti Srinivas, CEO of the South Asian Games, was quoted by the PTI.
"There will be two parts of the ceremony, one will be the sports part where we will have the march past by the athletes, oath taking and torch relay inside the stadium. Around 7-8 current and past sportspersons will do the honours."
The quadrennial games were originally scheduled to be held two years back in New Delhi, but the games kept getting postponed. And then, Guwahati and Shillong were zeroed in as the two cities where the multi-sport event will be hosted.
"I admit there were hiccups and there was always a room for improvement. But overall I feel there is no reason that these Games should not be successful," Srinivas added.
Eight SAARC countries – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh – with more than 2500 athletes, will vie for glory.
Dhaka had hosted the previous edition of the South Asian Games in 2010, and India bossed the event, bagging a whopping 175 medals – which included 90 gold.
Where to watch live
South Asian Games 2016 Opening Ceremony starts at 5 pm IST on Friday, 5 February. Prasar Bharati remains the principal broadcaster of the event in India.
Viewers in India can catch the entire South Asian Games 2016 on Doordarshan. The online streaming will be available on the YouTube profile of MIB. Radio commentary of the event will be available on the All India Radio.
Other live streaming options:
In Pakistan: Geo Super.
Sri Lanka: MTV Sports.
Bangladesh: Gazi TV.
Afghanistan: Lemar TV.
Nepal: Kantipur Gold.