Shillong, Apr 22: Meghalaya could be the next “sports capital” of South Asia and a sports tourism destination if it can leverage the advantages it has in terms of climate and natural beauty, Meghalaya State Olympic Association Working President John F Kharshiing has said.

Kharshiing (pictured with top Indian paddler Manika Batra) has spoken to a number of table tennis athletes who are participating in the ongoing 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship and has received encouraging feedback about Shillong. There are some 500 table tennis players from across the country plus hundreds more officials for the huge event.

“Their positive comments about the wonderful climate and natural beauty of the state of Meghalaya is an indicator that Meghalaya could be the next favourite sports capital and sports tourism destination of South Asia,” the MSOA chief said.

Naturally, climate and scenic beauty will not be enough to bring in major sporting events, infrastructure will be required too and the state government is currently undertaking a massive programme of renovation and new construction around the state.

“We are thankful to the Chief Minister and Sports Minister for supporting such mega sporting events in Shillong city,” Kharshiing said. “The number of participants speaks of the enthusiasm and energy of the youth of India and their yearning for podium finishes. This is a huge encouragement to the state players.”

The government’s “strong commitment and encouragement” for big tournaments like this should also help Meghalaya produce its first Olympians, something the MSOA and government are hoping to accomplish within the next 6-10 years.

(Photo: John F Kharshiing)

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