National Games: Much-awaited opening ceremony today

Ceremony is scheduled to start at 3:00pm and end at 4:30pm and will be inaugurated by PM Shehbaz Sharif

Alam Zeb Safi
Participants face-off in a Taekwondo competition during the 34th National Games. — Twitter/@cs_balochistan
Participants face-off in a Taekwondo competition during the 34th National Games. — Twitter/@cs_balochistan

  • Ceremony may be rescheduled due to security reasons, sources say.
  • As many as 3,000 athletes, officials to be part of ceremony. 
  • Athletes, officials given Rs1,000, Rs1500 per day respectively.

KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to formally inaugurate the much-awaited 34th National Games in what is expected to be an impressive ceremony in Quetta today.

According to the organisers of the event, the ceremony is scheduled to start at 3:00pm and end at 4:30pm. 

However, sources claim that due to security reasons, the ceremony may be rescheduled, adding that despite the concerns, every effort will be made to finish the one-and-half-hour-long ceremony well before Maghrib.

The organisers of the event have also shared that as many as 3,000 athletes and officials will be part of the opening ceremony which will include performances by artists to highlight the culture of Balochistan

The biennial spectacle has already started as the organisers opted to conduct the competitions in around a dozen of disciplines before the opening ceremony in order to cope with logistics and accommodation issues. 

The competitions in around a dozen of disciplines have already been completed and their athletes have returned while some events, especially those being held outside Balochistan, are in progress. 

Quetta last hosted the National Games in 2004. On Sunday, the organisers also held meetings to discuss the opening ceremony which is the most vital part of the Games.

The sources said that tight security arrangements have been made to conduct the opening ceremony in the most befitting way. They added that security forces were seen keeping a vigilant eye on every movement on Sunday.

They further added said that police have also been seen in hotels where athletes are staying and outsiders are not allowed to enter these hotels. 

The Balochistan IG is making every effort to ensure top security is provided to the participating athletes and officials of the Games, the sources said, adding that a full dress rehearsal was in progress at the Ayub Stadium. The rehearsal started after the men’s football final between PAF and Police, which eventually was won by Police 3-0. 

A secretariat has been established at the Ayub Stadium which also houses the office of the director general of Balochistan Sports Board, and the Games Media Centre.

An Olympic Secretariat has been established at the Bugti Stadium where the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) officials sit.

The sources said that there are some administrative issues and information is not timely shared.

However, they added that most of the contingents of the participating units have reached Quetta and are ready to attend the opening ceremony. 

Moreover, the sources shared that the athletes are given Rs1,000 each as a daily allowance while officials get Rs1500 daily to meet their diet expenses during the Games. 

Two-time Tokyo-based Olympian judoka Shah Hussain has also arrived in Quetta and will be part of the Army contingent in the opening ceremony, the sources revealed.

However, the country’s top karateka Saadi Abbas will miss the Games due to personal issues. Saadi, a former Asian champion and a US Open champion, had to represent WAPDA in the Games but cancelled his trip from Canada due to personal reasons.