KARACHI: With so many issues yet to be addressed, the Director General of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Col (retd) Mohammad Asif Zaman on Saturday said that Pakistan is determined to host the 14th South Asian Games in a ‘grand’ way.
“Yes, I am very much confident that we will be able to host a grand event. I hope it will be better than what we have organised in the past as you know time has now changed,” Asif told ‘The News’ in an interview from Islamabad.
However he was quick to add that several matters are yet to be finalised, adding, work is in progress on various fronts and hopefully things would go in that direction.
“Look, it is confirmed that most of the events will be conducted at Lahore while Islamabad will also host competitions in six to seven disciplines. The infrastructure is being made and Punjab also will have a major role as a province in hosting the spectacle,” said Asif, also a former Asian junior squash champion.
The time-frame for the event is yet to be decided.
“In the previous meeting the POA had suggested March and October 2023 as months in which we can host the event. In March I think there will be Pakistan Super League (PSL) and it is expected that the time-frame will experience some changes and the event may go to October. But we will decide on dates whatever the POA will suggest to us as it is the sole event organising body and the government will fully back it,” Asif said.
Asked whether both the opening and closing ceremonies of the event will be held in Lahore, Asif said that it would be decided in coming meetings. “No, it has not yet been decided and we will decide it with consensus in future meetings,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention here that POA has already given its input to the state that both the opening and closing ceremonies should be conducted in Lahore which will host competitions in majority of the disciplines.
Asif said that they are waiting for the South Asian Olympic Council (SAOC) to send its delegation and inspect the various venues across both the federal capital and Punjab. “We will smartly look after the delegation of the SAOC. We are working on renovation of the infrastructure and soon we will be able to make it ready for the much-awaited showpiece,” he said.
“A hefty amount has already been approved and we will be in a good position by then to host the competitions in the most befitting way,” Asif stressed.
DG PSB added that keeping in view other events as well as South Asian Games, the government is providing training camps and foreign coaches to the teams and the state’s main objective would be to see its athletes excel at home in an event which will be more competitive.
He said that from a tourism point of view too it would be a huge occasion for Pakistan to let the visiting contingents visit the historic places both at Lahore and northern areas. “The relevant ministry will play its role in making it happen,” said Asif.
Meanwhile sources in the IPC Ministry told ‘The News’ that work is also being done on the reconstitution of the steering committee and organising committee of the South Asian Games under the leadership of the IPC minister Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari who according to a source is taking keen interest in the matter.
Under the previous IPC minister Dr Fehmida Mirza the Games Organising Committee had been constituted without taking input from the POA and the NOC had also shown its reservations on the matter.
Sources said that the next meeting regarding the South Asian Games will be held after the new-look steering committee and organising committee will be officially notified in the next few days.
However, according to sources the current IPC minister Mazari has shown a flexible stance and in his meeting with a POA delegation a few days ago he had assured the NOC that various steps would be taken with consensus.
This will be the third time that Pakistan will be hosting the biennial spectacle after having organised this in 1989 and 2004 at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad.
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