By our correspondent
LAHORE: During a crucial Executive Committee meeting of the South Asia Olympic Council (SAOC) on Monday hosts Pakistan proposed October-November 2023 as time-frame for holding the 14th South Asian Games.
The virtual meeting was chaired by the Pakistan Olympic Association’s (POA) president Lt General (retd) Syed Arif Hasan. The meeting was attended by secretaries of NOCs of India, hosts Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
It was learnt that POA told the participating nations that the Games will be conducted two or three months after the general elections in Pakistan which are expected to be held in August 2023. All the nations responded in a positive way, saying that it should be the case.
The POA secretary general Khalid Mehmood, who also attended the meeting, told this correspondent that all the participating nations also agreed on the venues which will host various events during the biennial spectacle which Pakistan will host for the third time after having hosted it in 1989 and 2004 in Islamabad.
“Yes, all agreed on venues,” Khalid said.
Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, Faisalabad and Gujranwala will host the competitions. Khalid said that some time was sought by the SAOC for finalising the sports disciplines.
“We will again send them the whole list of disciplines in the next two weeks and they will share their comments with us and we told them that we will again meet after Eid to discuss and finalise the matter. For finalising a team sports discipline the consent of minimum four nations is mandatory,” Khalid said.
It has been learnt that hockey, which was not there in the 2019 Nepal South Asian Games, will be included in the list of disciplines. There are also chances of inserting rugby, baseball and snooker in the Games list. However nothing is yet final about the disciplines.
Pakistan also proposed four disciplines as hosts country.
“Once disciplines will be finalised we will then meet with both Punjab government and federal government to get their input about which events will be held at which venue then we will let the SAOC delegation to inspect those venues,” Khalid said.
Khalid was very happy with the way all nations responded during the meeting.
“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and all nations, including India, were very thankful and they are excited for sending their contingents to Pakistan for featuring in the competitions,’ Khalid said.
In 2016 when India was going to host the South Asian Games it sent a delegation comprising representatives of the government and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to Pakistan as a goodwill gesture. When Khalid was asked whether Pakistan would also send a delegation to India before the South Asian Games as a goodwill gesture he said: “I don’t think there is any need of this. Yes if government wants that we should also visit as a goodwill gesture then we can arrange tours of all nations who are set to feature in the South Asian Games in Pakistan.”