South Asian Games end with a colourful closing ceremony

Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal declared the Games closed at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium.

South Asian Games end with a colourful closing ceremony

Guwahati: Northeast India's diverse and colourful culture were in full display as the curtains were brought down on the 12th South Asian Games amid magnificent fireworks that lit the night sky over the capital city.

Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal declared the Games closed at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium here to mark the formal end to the 12-day biggest multi-sporting spectacle of the eight SAARC countries, jointly co-hosted by Guwahati and Shillong.

"I declare the 12th South Asian Games closed," Sonowal said in the presence of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Meghalaya Sports Minister Zenith M Sangma and Indian Olympic Association top bosses to bring a sombre end to the Games competed among more than 2500 athletes from eight countries.

The Games flame at the cauldron was extinguished as the Guwahati night sky was lit with fireworks. The flag of the South Asian Olympic Council was lowered and handed over to the officials of next host country -- Nepal. 

Sonowal handed the flag to the President of the South Asian Olympic Council N Ramachandran, who in turn handed it to 13th SAG Organising Committee Chairman and Nepal Olympic Committee chief Jeevan Ram Shreshtha in the presence of Nepal Sports Minister Satyanarayan Mandal. 

India, hosting the Games for the third time after Calcutta (1987) and Madras (1995), overwhelmingly dominated the 12th edition by grabbing an unprecedented 308 medals (188 gold, 90 silver, 30 bronze) and stamped their superiority as an unrivalled region sporting power. 

Sri Lanka were a distant second with 25 gold, 63 silver and 98 bronze while Pakistan ended at third with 12 gold, 37 silver and 57 bronze. India, in fact, bagged more than three-fourth of the total 239 on offer in 23 disciplines.

The Games, which were inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 5 during a spectacular opening ceremony, had been quite a success on the sporting front though there were organisational issues, including provision of media facilities.

The evening today began with performances by eight live bands from across the North Eastern states before the official closing ceremony started.