Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice President M. Venakaiah Naidu expected to be the chief guest for opening ceremony on April 24.
Shooting range was being set up at Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex, cleaners were sweeping the track at Kanteerava Stadium, the media team was present at SP Jain University, the catering team was having a preliminary meeting, and the organizers were setting up the Kanteerava indoor stadium for Khelo India opening ceremony. Bengaluru is gearing up for the second edition of the Khelo India University Games, 2022.The event to be held from April 24 to May 3, is being organized after a gap of one year as COVID-19 halted the games in 2021.
The opening ceremony will be held at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium facility on April 24.. Karnataka Athletics Association Secretary, A. Rajavelu said, “Approximately 500 cultural artists will perform at the opening ceremony of the games. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice President Naidu are also expected to be at the opening ceremony.”
A Khelo India media official said, “The games will be declared open by the Vice President of India. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur will also be present at the ceremony.”
The opening ceremony being held at the indoor stadium also resulted in re-scheduling of basketball. An official from SAI said that basketball was pre-poned to April 23 at the outdoor court as the indoor court was assigned to host the opening ceremony.
The games will be held across five venues in the city. Kanteerava Stadium will host athletics and basketball. Hockey matches will be played at the Cariappa Stadium. Shooting, which will be a part of the games for the first time, will be held at SAI. Other 13 events will be held at S.P Jain Global University Campus, and three events will be held at Jain Sports University.
Rajavelu said, “Jain University was interested to host the event and they have better infrastructure as well. As far as basketball and athletics are concerned, we have very good facilities here [at Kanteerava Stadium].”
The Sports Ministry inducted four indigenous martial arts forms in the Khelo India games in 2021 — Kalaripayattu of Kerala, Mallakhamb of Central India, Gatka of Punjab, and Thang-ta of Manipur.
But, administrative issues hindered taekwondo to be a part of the games. Naveen Patil, a taekwondo coach said, “Taekwondo could not be a part of the games due to elections of the association. And there were some other procedural issues as well. It will be a part of the games next year.”
Reports suggest that more than 4,500 athletes from 189 universities will participate in 20 different disciplines from across the country.Across different disciplines and categories 257 medals will be awarded. Athletics will have 22 sub-disciplines.
Dishant Jadhav, shooting coach at SAI said that the shooters were well prepared and the shooting ranges would be in place by today afternoon. “The event will act as a qualifier for the World University Games to be held in China in June, so it is very important for Indian shooters,” said Jadhav.
Jadhav added that they are constantly trying to push new talent at the highest level. “This is the stage from where their professional journey starts.”
Rajavelu had similar views. “The players competing here will represent India at international level. They have a chance to participate at the Asian Games, Common Wealth Games and other international events.”
Athletics coach Vasanth Kumar said that this is the biggest exposure for players at national level. He said that the athletes from Bengaluru are trained well and ready to face their competitors. However, as Kanteerava Stadium was re-constructed very recently, athletes could not practice there.
“These are university games, so the athletes practice at their university facilities, but obviously it would have been better if they could have practiced at Kanteerava Stadium,” Kumar added.
The organizers will ensure utmost precautions for COVID-19 and ensure that protocols are appropriately followed.
Jadhav said, “We have asked the players to bring in RTPCR report, at least 48 hours prior to their arrival. We also have a camp for rapid test here and we also have a medical room.”
Rajavelu said, “The government and the BBMP are also involved in the event, and hence COVID protocols will have to be strictly followed.”
The athletes participating at Jain Global University Campus and Jain Sports University will stay at the accommodation facilities within the university, whereas the athletes participating at other venues will be accommodated at hotels.
The 2020 edition was won by the Punjab University with 17 gold, 19 silver, and 10 bronze medals. It will be worthwhile to see who makes it to the top after a gap of almost two years.