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The 11th South Asian Games kicks off with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opening the greatest sporting extravaganza of the region releasing pigeons, the symbol of peace.

“The 11th South Asian Games is opened,” she said while colourful balloons swarmed the skyline of the Bangabandhu National Stadium in seconds to mark the announcement.

The country welcomed scores of South Asian and Asian sports dignitaries to an opening ceremony watched by nearly 25,000 people at the eye-catching National Stadium and a potential audience of half a billion in the South Asia region. It was depicted as the largest, costliest extravaganza in SA Games history.

Nearly 1,800 athletes from eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – joined the games considered “South Asian Olympic” to compete in 23 disciplines, which offer 158 gold medals.

The 23 official sports for the 11th SAF Games: Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Cricket, Cycling, Football, Golf, Hockey, Handball, Judo, Kabaddi, Karate,
Shooting, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Volleyball, Weightlifting, Wrestling and Wushu. (NNN-BSS)