The countdown for the 4th Khelo India Youth Games began on a high note, with the unveiling of its logo, mascot, jersey and anthem at a spectacular launch ceremony in Panchkula on Saturday.
Attended by a power-packed audience, led by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal and Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur, the captivating show set the stage for the biggest and grandest Games ever.
“We are proud and honoured to host this edition of the Khelo Games. We can’t wait to welcome the country’s youngest sporting talent to our beloved state," Manohar Lal said.
The chief minister pointed out Haryana’s proud tradition of sending the maximum number of athletes to represent India in international competitions. “More importantly, we have won one-third of the medals won by India in the Olympics and other major world events," he added.
The KIYG will begin on June 4. Over 8,000 students from across the country will compete in 25 disciplines, including five traditional games — Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta, Mallakhamba and Yogasana — that will feature as demonstration sports.
Tau Devi Lal Stadium in picturesque Panchkula will be the hub of all action while Chandigarh, Ambala, Shahbad and Delhi will host some of the competitions.
“In the recent past, our athletes have been doing very well on the world stage. It’s heartening that several youngsters who represent the country internationally are emerging from the Khelo Youth and University Games," Anurag Thakur said. “PM Modi ji’s vision of Young India will surely see India finishing in the Top 10 of the Olympic Games in the not too distant future," he added.
Among the several dignitaries present at the Launch Ceremony were Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gianchand Gupta, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Sandeep Singh, a hockey legend himself.
The KIYG logo sports the now popular line-drawing of a running athlete in saffron and green colours. It also has a few other elements that signify the essence and glory of the state of Haryana. It includes two iconic images from the Mahabharata, the bow wielded by Arjuna and the chariot commandeered by Lord Krisha, and five sports that Haryana has dominated over the years.
The mascot, named Dhaakad, is the bull that is not only revered in these parts of the country but is also believed to be the secret behind the superhuman strength of Haryana’s sons and daughters.
The Games anthem, penned and performed by rap star Raftaar, proved to be an instant hit, with the gathering unable to stop tapping its feet or clapping to the glorious beat. The song cleverly glorifies almost every sports star of the state, including hockey legend Sandeep Singh, India’s first Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Kapil Dev and Sakshi Malik.
For the first time, the government has envisaged a KIYG torch relay which will be carried to every corner of Haryana to promote the Games and encourage every kid to take up sports.
Haryana is all geared up for the Games, having built several world-class multipurpose sports venues, synthetic tracks and artificial turfs. Among the new infrastructure, is a Badminton Hall in Government Women’s College, Panchkula. State-of-the-art hockey stadiums are also ready in Panchkula and Shahbad while an all-weather swimming pool has come up in Ambala.
The Games are being organised jointly by the State Government, Union Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and the Sports Authority of India (SAI).