Thiruvananthapuram: With just three weeks left for the start of the 35th edition of National Games here, preparations are in full swing with the state government formally launching the official countdown of the multi-sporting event.
As a prelude to the fortnight-long sporting gala, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 31, a series of promotional programmes including 'Run Kerala Run' marathon and a torch rally will be held in the coming days.
Cricket legend and goodwill ambassador of the Games Sachin Tendulkar would participate in the marathon, a major highlight of the campaign, to held on January 20 in over 7,000 points across the state with expected participation of lakhs of people from various walks of life.
Launching the official countdown, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy unveiled the medals to be presented to the winners at a colourful function here last evening in the presence of yesteryear athletes and coaches.
Chandy said the state was all set to successfully host the National Games, being held in different venues in seven districts.
The opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will be held at the new 'Greenfield Stadium", built at a cost of Rs 161 crore at Karyavattom here.
President Pranab Mukherjee would be the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony of the Games which are expected to be participated by more than 10,000 athletes and technical staff from various states.
Prominent sportspersons from the state who took part in the countdown launch event included M D Valsamma, Shiny Wilson, Rosakutty, Padmini Thomas, K M Beenamol, Anju Bobby George and George Thomas.
A mobile phone application and uniform for volunteers and officials participating in the Games were also launched.
About 2500 artists are expected to showcase their talents and entertain the visitors in the cultural fiesta, planned as part of the Games, which is being held in Kerala after a gap of 27 years.
Construction of nine new stadiums of advanced facilities are heading for completion in different parts of the state.
A 'Greenfield Stadium', a huge sports complex which can provide facilities to conduct various sports events, and a sprawling 'Games Village', which can accommodate over 5000 people at a time, would be the major highlights in the infrastructure front.
According to the organisers, the Games Village would be a 'Miniature India' as this venue is supposed to be the most vocal and visual representation of the country's national integration at the Games.
The National Games Organising Committee, with the support of the state Suchitwa Mission, has also planned a clean and green drive at various locations with the motto "Clean and Green National Games 2015".
The theme song of the Games "Get Set Play", composed by top notch music director Hariharan, was launched last week.
The 'Great Hornbill' christened as Ammu, the official mascot of the Games, has been touring across the state and visiting schools as part of the creating an awareness about the significance of the Games.