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October 16, 2019

National Games rescheduled in view of planned protest march


October 16, 2019

KARACHI: The 33rd National Games were on Tuesday rescheduled due to unavoidable circumstances.

The biennial spectacle, which was earlier pencilled in for October 26 to November 1, will now be held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from November 9-14. According to sources the decision was taken due to the protest march planned by the JUI-F later this month.

Sources told ‘The News’ that heavy police deployment would be made in anticipation of the JUI-F protest and it was feared that it might affect the security arrangements for the athletes. And that was the main reason why the dates of the Games were changed, the sources said.

“With the safety and security of the athletes always of paramount concern the Pakistan Olympic Association, the organising committee and the government of KP agreed to reschedule the National Games,” Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) said in a press release on Tuesday.

“The National Games shall now be held from 09th to 14th November. The closing ceremony will be held on 15th. The events, venues and details of events already notified shall remain unchanged,” the POA said.

The organisers, however, said that the torch relay would continue. The relay had been started from Karachi on October 6. This is the first time in the history of the Games that the torch would travel throughout the country, including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, before entering KP.

Syed Aqil Shah, KP Olympic Association’s president and chief organiser of the National Games, told ‘The News’ that he was left heartbroken but what happened was not in his hands. “It has really left me heartbroken as we had done a great job to prepare for the event. But it was something not in our hands. I will meet my secretaries tomorrow and will motivate them to continue their hard work,” Shah told ‘The News’ from Peshawar on Tuesday.

“We don’t face any financial loss because of this rescheduling. We will print new invitation cards and will also invite the Prime Minister, the President and other dignitaries as per new dates. I am very much confident we will be able to hold the Games in the new dates,” said Shah, also a former KP sports minister.

Shah said that the weather would not be that cold in the new dates. “We will instruct all hotels to manage warm water for the athletes,” he said.

The contingents were scheduled to arrive in Peshawar on October 25. Now reservations would be revised. “Yes, we are going to revise our train reservations,” Sindh Olympic Association (SOA) secretary Ahmed Ali Rajput told ‘The News’ here on Tuesday. “We had booked the train for October 24. We now plan to revise it for November 7,” he added.

A source said if the Games were not held in the new dates then it would get delayed further because of the South Asian Games and other international commitments.

Quetta was supposed to host the Games, but these were shifted a few months ago to KP as Balochistan failed to prepare despite having postponed the spectacle a few times because of security and financial issues. The last National Games were held in Lahore in 2012. In 2013, the then parallel POA conducted the so-called Games in Islamabad but that edition is not part of the Games history.

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