By our correspondent
LAHORE: Lahore, which is the sports hub of the country, on Friday hosted the 34th National Games torch relay and ceremonies at different spots were conducted to give a message of peace, solidarity and friendship, which is the basic purpose of the relay.
The torch, which had reached the Punjab’s capital late Thursday, was received by the Punjab Olympic Association from the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) at the latter’s headquarters at the Temple Road at a brief ceremony. Punjab Olympic Association then took it to Lahore College Women University where a function was conducted. After Friday’s prayers it was taken to Railways Headquarters. And then Punjab Olympic Association received it from the Railways sports leadership and was brought in to Punjab Stadium where a gripping ceremony was conducted.
Punjab Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs Shahid Zaman, Balochistan Secretary Sports Ishaq Jamali, Director General Sports Board Punjab (SBP) Dr Asif Tufail, POA Secretary General Khalid Mehmood, Pakistan Karate Federation (PKF) and POA senior official Mohammad Jehangir, Pakistan Wrestling Federation (PWF) vice-president Arshad Sattar, Punjab Olympic Association’s president Amir Jan and Secretary General Khawaja Idrees and Punjab Olympic Association’s vice-president Madam Mubashira graced the occasion.
The ceremony was also embellished with their presence by a galaxy of Olympians and Pakistan’s top players in different disciplines including Khwaja Junaid, Rabia Ashiq, Shabana Akhtar, Najma Parveen, Abdur Rasheed, Shafiq Chishti, sprinter Shajar Abbas and javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem’s coach Fayyaz Bukhari.
The torch was handed over by a galaxy of athletes to Punjab Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs Shahid Zaman and then it was sent via a double decker bus for a tour of the Lahore’s city.
Speaking on the occasion Shahid Zaman said that sports keep the humanity united.
“Sports keep the humanity together. It’s a vital part of human life and society,” Shahid said.
“It’s a matter of extreme happiness that the Games are being held in Balochistan. We are thankful to the Balochistan’s government for hosting the Games,” Shahid said.
“Punjab players will also play with spirit and inshaAllah will win medals for the province,” Shahid said.
Balochistan Sports Secretary Ishaq Jamali said that Quetta is going to host the National Games after 19 years.
“There were so many challenges. There were security and financial constraints but thanks God all hurdles have been overcome due to full support of stakeholders and we are set to host the Games,” Jamali said.
“Hearts are united due to sports. We will extend top hospitality to the participants during the Games and I am confident that these Games would be remembered for years,” Jamali said.
The POA Secretary General Khalid Mehmood also thanked Balochistan’s government for hosting the Games.
“Balochistan government did its best to make these Games possible. I also thank Sports Board Punjab for backing Punjab’s contingent. Its our collective responsibility to make the Games a big success which will also help to spread a message of peace and the image of Balochistan will be boosted a lot,” Khalid said.
Punjab Olympic Association’s president Amir Jan said that objectives of the Games will be achieved.
“It will promote national integrity. A 450-member contingent of Punjab is featuring in the Games. I say good luck to all my players. I also thank to the Punjab’s Chief Minister whose timely approval ensured Punjab’s participation in the Games,” Amir said.
Punjab Olympic Association’s secretary Khawaja Idrees said that Punjab’s five teams have reached Quetta, four are on the way while some teams are set to depart on Saturday (today).
The torch will be taken on Saturday (today) to IG Office and Akhawat University before it will be handed over to the POA for further transfer to Quetta on May 14.
The Games will be contested in 32 disciplines with the hocky event got underway at the Balochistan’s capital on Friday and some events will begin on Saturday (today).
The Games formal opening ceremony will be held on May 22. The Games will last until May 30. Balochistan last hosted these Games in 2004 in Quetta.
Five events including rowing, cycling, shooting, swimming and sailing are being conducted outside Balochistan.
By our correspondent