Even as the organisers are providing finishing touches to various stadia, constructed to stage the 32nd National Games, events in seven of the 24 disciplines will kick-off in Hyderabad on Thursday, a day ahead of the grand opening ceremony on December 13.
Badminton (Dec 12 to 16), volleyball (Dec 12 to 16), hockey (Dec 12 to 21), rowing (Dec 12 to 17), football (Dec 12 to 21), gymnastics (Dec 12 to 17) and kho kho (Dec 12 to 16) will get under way on Thursday in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Twenty-four disciplines will be staged in Hyderabad, while Visakhapatnam will host eight, from December 13 to 20.
Meanwhile, the Games Village at Gachibowli, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, is bustling with activity as sportspersons from various states have started arriving in the 'City of Pearls'.
The city wears a festive look as flags, festoons and banners greet participants and visitors. The athletes will be housed in about 700 apartments, constructed on a sprawling 50 acre land, at a cost of Rs 1.5 billion.
With barely 48 hours left for the curtain to go up on the 10-day extravaganza, which will be inaugurated by President A P J Abdul Kalam, officials at the Information Centre, set up at three railway stations -- Secunderabad, Kacheguda and Hyderabad -- and Imbliban and Jubilee bus station in Secunderabad, are busy receiving participants and officials.
Almost 80 per cent of the athletes from 33 states and one institutional outfit -- Services -- have occupied the newly-constructed flats at the village, according to an official of the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh. Nearly 8,000 sportspersons, including officials, would be in the city and in Visakhapatnam for the Games.
Expectedly, Andhra Pradesh heads the list of participants, fielding the biggest contingent of 935 athletes, including 328 women, followed by Maharashtra (623), Punjab (622), Manipur and Delhi (455 each), West Bengal (448), Uttar Pradesh (441), Karnataka (390) and Tamil Nadu (382).
Meanwhile, controversy is raging over the edition of the Games. Is Andhra Pradesh hosting the 32nd National Games or the seventh?
A definite answer is elusive, with those connected with the conduct of the Games offering all plausible answers. But they also know that the arguments in support of their views are not logical.
As per records available with the Indian Olympic Association, the concept of the National Games was first conceived and staged 78 years ago. But the IOA does not have the name of the place where the first event was staged. The records show that the Games were a biennial event till 1948, with a break in 1944, which could have been due to the height of the freedom movement at that time.
However, two events were held in Lahore -- XI and XII -- in 1946.
Interestingly, the sixth National Games in 1934, staged in New Delhi, were called the Indian Olympic Games and that is that the first officially known place where the event was staged.
The records have not mentioned venues of the first five Games.
One argument is that when the Indian Olympic Association did not exist how could the Games, the venue of which is not known, be counted as the first event. The country was not united and many states had their own Games which were also called the National Games. The ideal thing would be to do the count from 1985, when a full-scale Games --details of which are also clearly known -- were held.
Or, other best option would be to count back from the Independence. As Karnataka and Manipur continued with the new numbering for the edition despite pressure, Punjab, who staged the previous edition, virtually put the clock back, by calling the Games the 31st National Games. They should not have been allowed to do so. The credit of staging the first event in independent India goes to Lucknow, who staged the Games in 1948.
Interestingly, the last event in that sequence was held in Hyderabad in 1979 and there was a break of six years before the event was revived with a new numbering in 1985 at New Delhi.
Hyderabad had staged the 25th National Games after a gap of 11 years as Chennai had hosted the previous edition in 1968.
Delhi has staged the Games the maximum number of times -- four -- in 1934, 1954 1960 and 1985, which was called the first edition of the Games.
That was considered the beginning of the National Games till Punjab reversed it. Mumbai and Bangalore hosted the event once on their own and were co-hosts under the new Games numbering system.
Following are the previously held Games:
I. - Venue not known, 1924
II - Venue not known, 1926
III - Venue not known, 1928
IV - Venue not known, 1930
V - Venue not known, 1932
VI - New Delhi (Indian Olympic Games), 1934
VII - Lahore, 1936
VIII - Calcutta, 1938
IX - Mumbai, 1940
X - Patiala, 1942
XI.- Lahore, 1942
XII - Lahore, 1946
XIII - Lucknow, 1948
XIV - Chennai, 1952
XV - Jabalpur, 1953
XVI - Delhi, 1954
XVII - Patiala, 1956
XVIII - Cuttack, 1958
XIX - New Delhi, 1960
XX - Jabalpur, 1962
XXI - Calcutta 1964
XXII - Bangalore, 1966
XXIII - Chennai, 1968
XXV - Hyderabad, 1979
I - New Delhi, 1985
II - Kerala, 1987
III - Maharashtra (Pune, Mumbai) 1994
IV - Karnataka ( Bangalore, Mysore) 1997
V - Manipur, 1999
VI - Punjab, 2001.