The 12th South Asian Games will energise the youth of the country, particularly in the northeastern region, Sports Minister and chairman of the Games organising committee Sarbananda Sonowal said here on Sunday.
Sonowal was present at the flagging-off of the torch relay of the Games, which are being hosted by India in Guwahati and Shillong from February 5-16.
The torch relay ceremony of the Games was launched amid much fanfare at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here in the presence of Sonowal and eminent sports personalities, including former Indian hockey captain Zafar Iqbal, yesteryears' badminton star Pullela Gopichand and former woman weightlifter Kunjarani Devi, among others.
"The South Asian Games are the symbol of the cohesion, peace and harmony, and sports persons are the sports ambassadors of their respective countries. These Games will energise the youths of the country. This Torch Relay marks the beginning of the South Asian Games, 2016," Sonowal was cited in a Sports Authority of India (SAI) release as saying.
The South Asian Games (SAG) is a biennial multinational multi-sport event held among the athletes from south Asia and is organised in a format similar to Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
In its 12th edition, athletes from eight member countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be participating.
More than 3,500 athletes and sports officials from the eight participating countries are expected to take part in the Games.