New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS): Anurag Thakur, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports and Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, formally declared the Khelo India Para Games 2023 open in a dazzling ceremony at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall here on Monday.
Over 1450 participants from 32 states and Union Territories and Services Sports Board are participating in these Games between December 10 and 17 at three venues in Delhi.
There was also a special video message by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the participants.
Accompanied by legends in para sports -- Deepa Malik, Bhavina Patel and Sumit Antil -- Thakur participated in the torch relay before declaring the Khelo India Para Games open.
“This is a historic moment for Indian sports as the first-ever Khelo India Para Games is being held in the national Capital setting the ball rolling for a new movement in the sports ecosystem of the country. This initiative is a significant step towards providing equal opportunities for all athletes, regardless of their abilities. Khelo India Para Games signifies the New India,” Thakur said.
Encouraging the participants, Thakur said, “It feels very proud, to recognise your efforts to come and participate here. There are over 3000 people including athletes and officials who are here for the Games and a total of 276 gold medals are up for grabs. I wish every athlete the very best.”
Congratulating the efforts of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), Nisith Parmanik, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports said, “We are grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who implemented the use of the word Divyang instead of the word Viklang, and he insisted on not using the word disabled but call them differently abled. It is his visionary efforts that are encouraging people to change their thinking.
“I also congratulate Shri Anurag Thakur and the entire team at MYAS for their efforts in taking Indian sports to new heights through the Khelo India program, there is no doubt that India can bag more than 200 medals by 2030 at the Asian Para Games,” he added.
The glitzy event witnessed a scintillating performance by the Himachal Pradesh Police Band whose melody invoked patriotism. There was also a Kalbeliya dance performance by SAI officials, followed by a peppy ensemble by dance artists of the 'We Are One' group that depicted para dancing. The Games anthem set the ball rolling at the opening ceremony while an LED dance performance on the theme ‘Evolution of Para Games’ entices the audience.
The inaugural Khelo India Para Games is being organized at three venues – Indira Gandhi Stadium, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Karni Singh Shooting Range. The competition will be held in seven para sports -- athletics, shooting, archery, football, badminton, table tennis and weightlifting. Some of India’s top international para stars like Sheetal Devi, Bhavina Patel, Ashok and others will participate.