BENGALURU: Performances depicting Karnataka’s cultural heritage and a sound and light show added sparkle to the opening ceremony of the 2nd Khelo India University Games 2021 here at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
Representing the hosts Jain University in KIUG 2021, the youngest Indian swimmer to achieve Olympic standard time - Srihari Nataraj took the oath on behalf of all athletes after the Games were declared open by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu the presence of Karnataka governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot.
The opening ceremony was also graced by Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, Nisith Pramanik, State Youth Affairs and Sports Minister and Karnataka Youth Empowerment and Sports Minister Narayana Gowda.
Sports legends such as Vimal Kumar, Anju Bobby George, Reeth Abraham, Ashwini Nachappa, Malathi Holla, BR Beedu, AB Subbiah, SV Sunil, VR Raghunath were also part of the opening ceremony alongside KY Venkatesh, Sahana SM, Shashikanth Naik, Sahana SM, Manikandan, Thanya Hemanth, Farman Basha.
Declaring the KIUG 2021 open, Naidu said: "I appeal to all youngsters across the country to make sports a part of their lives so that you can lead a meaningful life. Playing some game of your choice will make you physically fit and mentally alert and we can really take the country forward. We are again regaining momentum in sports with importance given by the Govt. of India, and the Sports Ministry, once again, as was seen at the Tokyo Olympics. This edition of Khelo India will also feature indigenous sports such as Yogasana and Mallakhamba, and it is heartening to see. It is of utmost importance for us to promote and preserve our indigenous sports which are rooted in our culture, and a matter of pride for us."
There was also a special video message by Prime Minister Narendra Modi played on the big screen. Congratulating the city of Bengaluru for hosting the prestigious Games, the Prime Minister said: “The city of Bengaluru in itself is a symbol of the nation’s youth. In the era of Digital India and this city of startups, this intersection with sports is unique. Hosting the Khelo India University Games will add to the immense energy of this beautiful city. I congratulate the Government of Karnataka for the organization of these vital Games. Hosting these Games while contending with a global pandemic is a testament to the resolve and passion for sports among the people of India. I salute the courage of the people of Karnataka."
Welcoming nearly 4,000 athletes to India’s tech capital Bengaluru, Bommai expressed, "It is our pleasure and privilege to host Khelo India University Games 2021 in Bengaluru. It adds to our pleasure that Hon'ble Vice-President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, and Hon'ble Union Minister Of Youth Affairs and Sports, Shri Anurag Thakur joined us at the Opening Ceremony of such an important tournament in Bengaluru. KIUG 2021 is a great opportunity for us to prove our hospitality and our dedication to maintaining the national integrity of our nation and culture. PM Narendra Modi has given the impetus and a new dimension to our sporting world with his mission of Khelo India."
Thakur added, "When the first KIUG took place in Odisha, there was great pride and enthusiasm among people. But then, all our lives were affected by Covid and we had to wait nearly two years to return with Khelo India University Games 2022. After two years, it is the first opportunity for us to assemble together for the University Games and I see a similar passion among the youngsters this time around. With close to 4000 participants from nearly 200 Universities, this is the largest multi-discipline event taking place in the state of Karnataka. I visited the hosts, Jain University, and met over 500 enthusiastic athletes who will be taking part in the competition. I was also very happy to see that world-class facilities have been provided for the Games there, which are truly one of the best all-around in the world."
While a line-up of cultural programmes such as dollu kunitha, a traditional folk dance played out to the audience of 2,500 attendees, a dance ensemble for the Khelo India University Games Anthem composed by pop singer Chandan Shetty got the spectators tapping their feet to the catchy number.
Performances by drummers – Kerala Chande, Nashik Dhols & Punjabi dhols - set the mood of the 10-day sporting event which has drawn participation from various parts of the nation. New addition in this year’s KIUG, mallakhamba, a traditional sport dating back to the 12th century which showcases the skillset of youth in an indigenous manner, was also displayed during the opening ceremony. This was followed by an acrobatic performance by youth artists Kings United.
The opening ceremony was broadcast on DD Sports, All India Radio, and Radio City.