A new chapter in Jharkhand's sporting history will open on Saturday with the inauguration of the 34th National Games at the mega sports complex here.

When the State Governor, M.O.H. Farook, declares the Games open, the dreams and aspirations of the people of Jharkhand will be realised in more ways than one. The Games will see sporting action in 33 disciplines spread over three cities — Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad.

Six postponements, forced mainly owing to delay in completing the infrastructure coupled with constant political instability, put a huge question mark on the ability of the State to organise the Games.

As the State stands on the threshold of making history one cannot but admire the resolve of the successive governments and the administration, not to mention the role of the Jharkhand Olympic Committee (JOA).

Sports complex

As many as 8,500 athletes and more than 2,500 officials are expected for the Games. Ranchi will host 23 disciplines, 19 of them in one integrated mega sports complex.

The complex has come up on 325 acres of land at Hotwar in the outskirts of Ranchi. Most of the showpiece events like athletics, aquatics and shooting along with hockey, men's football, volleyball and basketball will be held here.

Dhanbad will host six disciplines, including rowing, canoeing, kayaking and triathlon. Jamshedpur will host boxing, weightlifting and archery along with women's football and equestrianism.

Adjacent to the sports complex is Khel Gaon, a swank residential complex on 56 acres of land, that will house more than 7,000 sportspersons and officials.

Local officials of different sports associations made a move to rope in noted sportspersons from other States to represent Jharkhand.

This has led to a lot of heart-burn among local talent. To put a stop to this charade the State government has announced that only those who are born and brought up in Jharkhand will be given cash awards for winning medals. The reward is Rs. 5 lakh for gold, Rs. 3 lakh for silver and Rs. 2 lakh for bronze.

Mascot Chhaua

The Games' mascot, Chhaua, a deer in running motion holding the torch, is seen everywhere.

An elaborate programme has been drawn up for the opening ceremony which will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Apart from highlighting the rich tribal culture and tradition through songs and dances, noted singer Sukhvinder Singh has been drafted in to entertain the spectators.

Bollywood actors, Vivek Oberoi, Amisha Patel and Sameera Reddy will add glamour to the show with their performances. A laser show followed by fireworks will bring the curtain down on the ceremony.

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