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PM Modi inaugurates 1st edition of Khelo India University Games

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Cuttack, Feb 22 : The inaugural edition of the Khelo India University Games was launched here on Saturday with a dazzling opening ceremony with Prime Minster Narendra Modi too gracing the occasion with his virtual presence.

Speaking to the august gathering through a video link, the Prime Minister declared the Games open and exhorted the athletes to better their own performances.

“It is a historic moment for Indian Sports. With the launch of Khelo India University Games India has entered the league of countries where university games are organized at this level. I congratulate the organizers from Odisha who have put together this spectacular event and wish the 3000+ youth athletes from across the country all the best for the Khelo India University Games.

“In the coming few days, the goal is to win medals but even more to better your own performance. Your hard work here will take you, your families and your country’s dream ahead. You have torch bearers like Dutee Chand here to inspire you. This is the start of a new sports revolution in India,” said the Prime Minister.

A colourful 45-minute cultural show marked the ceremony, with a number of top dignitaries, led by Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister of Petroleum, Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju, witnessing the show.

As many as 4,000 spectators enjoyed the immaculately conceived ceremony inside the stadium even as scores watched it on LED screens just outside the stadium.

After the stupendous success of the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati last month, the Indian Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to take it to the next level by hosting the Khelo India University Games (KIUG). The Odisha government promptly stepped forward and put everything in place in less than a month.

The KIYG officially began on Friday morning with competitions in archery, fencing, football, basketball and volleyball. It is the largest ever multi-discipline sports event being conducted at one venue for university students and hopes to unearth talented sportspersons for India.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “It is a moment of great pride for us to be hosting the first edition of the Khelo India University Games here in Odisha in association with the Government of India and the KIIT University. Khelo India University Games will provide a great platform to showcase sporting talent at the national level.

“Some of the athletes will return with medals, some with experience and all with great memories from the Games. I welcome all of you to the sport-loving state of Odisha. And, on behalf of the Government and people of Odisha, I wish all the athletes the very best for their sporting events,” Patnaik said.

Rijiju, during his address, said that the people of India will definitely see many international champions coming out of the Khelo India University Games. “I’m sure we will find more Olympians and unearth more talent from the Games. It gives a platform for athletes to showcase their talent at the highest level and also for athletes to interact with one another to share expertise. I’m confident that through initiatives such as the Khelo India Youth Games and the Khelo India University Games, India will have more stars in the future.”

The opening ceremony was a glittering affair with 390 students performing and showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Odisha. Aruna Mohanty choreographed a sequence which showcased dance forms such as Odissi and Sambalpuri.

The torch relay which kick-off the Games was led by India archer Muskan Kirar who passed on the baton to swimmer S.P. Likith who handed over the torch to former India hockey player Dilip Tirkey who lit the cauldron. The oath taking ceremony for the athletes was led by ace sprinter Dutee Chand who is taking part in the Khelo India University Games.

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Cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla’s bail plea dismissed

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New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed the bail application moved by cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, who was recently extradited to India for his alleged involvement in match-fixing racket.

Metropolitan Magistrate Navneet Budhiraja dismissed the application after hearing the arguments put forth by both the defence and the prosecution.

Chawla is one of the main accused in the match-fixing scandal that also involved former South Africa captain late Hansie Cronje. He had allegedly conspired with the latter to fix matches during South Africa’s tour to India in 2000.

Chawala, who was extradited to India from the UK in February, sought bail on the grounds that there is a threat of contracting coronavirus inside the “unhygienic” Tihar Jail.

“The conditions in the jail are not hygienic and there is a threat of coronavirus there and therefore, in view of the eminent threat of epidemic coronavirus in the jail as well, the applicant prays that he be released on bail,” the bail application stated.

He also claimed to have received life threats from various persons and said that the jail inmates made extortion demands from him.

The bookie further added that he has never been involved in any criminal case and was falsely implicated in the matter on vague allegations.


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Diamond League suspends 3 more track meets due to COVID-19

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Stockholm, March 28 The Diamond League has postponed three of its athletic meetings scheduled in May in the wake of ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Following the postponement of early-season events in Qatar and China last week, the series has decided to also suspend meetings in Stockholm (scheduled for May 24), Naples/Rome (May 28) and Rabat (May 31).

“The decision was made in close consultation with all the relevant parties. The dynamic global spread of the COVID-19 disease, the travel restrictions expected to be in force for some time and above all concerns over athlete safety have made it impossible to stage the competitions as planned,” the Diamond League said in a statement.

The first six events of the year have been called off and only the Shanghai meet has been given a new date.

The Diamond League also said that the “meeting organizers, the Wanda Diamond League and World Athletics remain committed to delivering a structured extensive season in 2020.”

The entire sporting calendar has come to a grinding halt because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far claimed more than 27,000 lives across the world.

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Turkish boxers test positive after Tokyo qualifier, IOC draws flak

The Boxing Road to Tokyo competition at the Copper Box was cancelled after three days because of the pandemic.

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Istanbul, March 26: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been labelled “irresponsible” after the Turkish Boxing Federation revealed two fighters and a coach who took part in a Tokyo 2020 qualifying event in London earlier this month had since tested positive for COVID-19.

Turkish Boxing Federation president Eyup Gozgec told BBC Sport that organisers failed to take the outbreak seriously enough and “didn’t care”.

He added: “I just want to know, when the whole world was on high alert, why they hosted this event?

“We didn’t see any hygienic standards there. There were no preventative measures.”

The Boxing Road to Tokyo competition at the Copper Box was cancelled after three days because of the pandemic.

In a letter sent to the board members of the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC), and accessed by the BBC, Gozgec wrote: “Two of our athletes (and a coach) have tested positive for (Covid-19) after returning to Turkey from London. All of them are in treatment now and thankfully are in good condition.

“This is the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC Boxing Task Force.”

Gozgec added that he now plans to write to all European boxing associations asking if any of their teams at the event have since tested positive.

“The organisers were irresponsible, and I think they didn’t realise the severity of the issue so they just didn’t care,” he said.

“They just didn’t take this outbreak seriously and they didn’t care about it. They did no tests for us. They just told us to go. They dropped us at the airport and that was it.”

He added: “They knew they were going to have to cancel — why go with it? The health of our athletes and staff is our priority.”

Organisers said they had taken all precautions and that no teams had reported symptoms at the event.

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