Bhubaneswar: The first Khelo India University Games will witness over 4,000 athletes from 100 universities across India vying for top honours in 17 different disciplines namely archery, athletics, boxing, fencing, judo, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling, badminton, basketball, football, hockey, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, rugby and kabaddi.

With a vision to promote culture and excellence in competitive sports, the first edition of Khelo India University Games was announced on 6 January by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik along with Ramesh Pokhriyal, Minister for Human Resource and Development, Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel, and Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports (I/C) Kiren Rijiju. The Khelo India Games has been declared an event of national importance. Its multiple platforms such as Khelo India School Games, Khelo India Youth Games, Khelo India University Games, Khelo India Games for differently-abled persons and Khelo lndia Games for Indigenous Sports, have been identified as events of national importance.

The Odisha government will host the prestigious event from 22 February-1 March 2020 at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) University in Bhubaneswar in association with the Sports Authority of India, Association of Indian Universities, KIIT University as the host university, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the National Sports Federation (NSFs).

The launch ceremony of the KIUG was also attended by  Arun Kumar Sahoo, Minister for Higher Education, government of Odisha, Tusharkanti Behera, Minister for Sports and Youth Services, government of Odisha and Achyuta Samanta, Founder KIIT University and Member of Parliament. Top athletes and national hockey players, too, were present at the ceremony. 

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said during the launch: “I am truly delighted to announce that the first edition of the Khelo India University Games will be held in Bhubaneswar, a city which has gained the repute of being the Sports Capital of India. I commend the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Sports Authority of India for taking this initiative of having an annual sports event of this magnitude at the University level. I am sure the true spirit of sportsmanship will be showcased during this event. The Odisha government and KIIT University will ensure all the participants will have a memorable experience during the event.”

“KIIT University is equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure that will make competing a great experience and I am hopeful that the participating universities will enjoy the hospitality here and also experience our rich culture, heritage and white sand beaches in Odisha,” he added.

Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (I/C), Government of India, Kiren Rijiju, believes that the Khelo India University Games will strengthen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition to make India a super power in sports.

“The Khelo India University Games is yet another empowering initiative of the Government of India that hopes to not only give a platform to young students to showcase their talent in sports, but in the long run, it will develop a culture to pursue sports at this level and eventually contribute to the ultimate goal of topping the medal tally in events like the Asian Games and Olympic Games,” Rijiju said at the launch ceremony.

“I invite every sports-loving and talented young student to grab this opportunity and begin his or her journey towards excellence. Playing sport is also a great way to build one’s character and have a fitter body and mind,” he added.

Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel, reflected the government’s ambition of seeing the Tri-colour fly high at the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games. “I am very delighted that the first edition of Khelo India University Games is being hosted in my home state. The people of Odisha are very passionate about sports and I am sure an event of this scale will inspire the future generation to take up sports as a career. These initiati

ves taken up by the government under the leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi will definitely help mould the future of budding sports stars of India and I am confident these initiatives will help the country win more medals at the upcoming Olympic Games in 2024 and 2028.”

Dutee Chand, one of the most celebrated athletes from Odisha, was also present at the launch ceremony event to unveil this inaugural edition’s logo and Games jersey. “This is a great platform for athletes who tend to give up sports after school due to pressure of studies or lack of events to take part after age-group/ junior and sub-junior events. A multi-discipline University Games will be a great fixture in the annual sports calendar, and it will give new hope to those who want to excel in sports. I thank the Government of India and SAI for taking up this initiative,” said Dutee who also hails from the KIIT University.

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