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Indo-Pak Punjab Games commence at Patiala

Last updated on: December 06, 2004 12:58 IST

The inaugural Indo-Pak Punjab Games kicked off with a colourful opening ceremony at the floodlit YPS stadium in Patiala on Sunday evening.

The Games torch was lit by former hockey Olympian Balbir Singh Senior and Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi declared the Games open.

Nearly 700 sportspersons from both Punjabs including 30 women in the 325 squad from West Punjab will be competing in 12 disciplines that include hockey, cycling, athletics, gymnastics, polo, handball, wrestling, badminton, volleyball, tug-of-war, shooting and kabaddi.

The Indian contingent was lead by former olympian Kartar Singh and hockey player Baljit Singh Dhillon while the Pak contingent was led by veteran hockey player Salamat Khalid.

"The Games are being played in an atmosphere of peace and spirit of brotherhood. We hope it will give further boost to our ties," Elahi said in his address.

"This will certainly have positive effect when peace dialogue between India and Pakistan is on. Let us hope we (Indo-Pak) will undertake this journey of peace and keep walking on this road till we reach our destination," he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh recalled how the idea of starting the Games had germinated when he visited Lahore earlier this year.

"It is a historic occasion for us, the borders should be done away with and people from both sides should have free access to see and meet each other," he said.

Capt Singh said, "winning or losing is not important, but the spirit in which these games are being played is supreme. When you go back we want that you take the message of love and peace."

Singh also said there was a proposal to hold the 2006 Indo-Pak Punjab Games in Jalandhar in 2006 after next year's games are held in Lahore, to which Indian Olympic President (IOC) Suresh Kalmadi gave his formal nod.

In his address, Kalmadi termed the holding of these Games as a bold initiative taken by Capt Amarinder Singh.

"We are agreeable to having the next edition of these Games in Pakistan next year," he said and appreciated Pakistan's support to India in various sporting matters.

IOC secretary general Randhir Singh read out the congratulatory messages from International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah who commended him for holding of the event.

The ceremonial torch was carried by Bangkok Asian Games gold medallist Kanwaljit Sandhu, footballer Gurdev Singh and Olympian and hockey veteran Ajit Pal Singh.

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