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31st National Games to open December 25
Strict security measures are in effect
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR – After several delays, the 31st National Games will open in Peshawar for a six-day run, December 25-31, under the slogan “Play for Peace” amid strict security measures, authorities say.
Sporting officials postponed the games twice because of security fears, but the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government refused to shift the games to another province.
Some 7,000 athletes and officials are expected to participate in the country's biggest sports gala.
“We want to give a message to the rest of the country and the world by hosting the event: that peace has returned to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said Provincial Sports Minister Syed Aqil Shah, who played a key role in keeping the event in Peshawar.
The organisers received assurances of tight security.
“We will take foolproof security measures for the games. The successful holding of the games will send a positive message to the world,” Corps Commander of Peshawar Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik said.
Police will take control of the stadium December 23. Nobody will be able to enter without an invitation card. Everybody will have to undergo a body search.
Authorities reserved VIP parking in Peshawar Cantonment, away from the Qayyum Sports Complex. The general public will have to park at Karnal Sher Khan Stadium (Army Stadium) and catch a shuttle to Qayyum.
Schoolboys who want to watch the events can gather at Government High School No. 4, from where they will be transported to the stadium; schoolgirls will assemble at Government High School No. 3.
Male athletes will participate in 28 different events; female athletes in seven events.
Nineteen of the events are scheduled for Peshawar. Soccer, handball, wushu, rifle shooting, swimming and taekwondo are scheduled for Islamabad. Baseball, hockey, and rowing are scheduled for Mardan, Abbottabad and Khanpur Lake, Haripur, respectively.
“The games were shifted to different cities after security officials advised not to host the players and officials in relatively insecure hotels on Grand Trunk Road,” Aqil Shah said. “This is why apart from reserving hotels in the cantonment, we have been provided two colleges and three schools by the army to host the guests.”
Workers properly furnished the schools and colleges so they would meet standards for accommodating athletes.
The twice-postponed games were originally scheduled for November 15-21, 2009.