Shillong, Nov 10: Meghalaya set the tone for the start of the 2nd North East Olympic Games 2022 with a stirring opening ceremony at the SAI Training Centre here today in front of thousands of homegrown and visiting athletes and dignitaries.

Welcoming those present was an arch gate that was a representation of Meghalaya’s world famous living root bridges. The Olympic torch was also tastefully crafted in the traditional style using local materials.

The athletes performed the march past, oath taking (led by Meghalaya karateka Wandahunshisha Mawblei) and witnessed the lighting of the flame, all of which are traditions of such sporting events, and, for their entertainment, there was a lineup of artistic acts, including the performance of the Games’ official anthem ‘Play’ by Summersalt and other artists from the North East; musical performances by Tarari Choir, Pynter Orchestra and Lamphang Syiemlieh & Ensemble; fireworks display; laser show; a song and dance performance that was a cultural extravaganza; and stunning drone show that was the real highlight.

The drone show featured a number of images and messages

Dignitaries from around the North East were present on the occasion, including cabinet ministers from the different states, legislators, senior officials, representatives of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association and North East Olympic Association, and star athlete, the ‘Dhing Express’ Hima Das. The emcee was noted television presenter and actor Mandira Bedi.

The Olympic torch was handed over to Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma by star Meghalaya runner Marso Kyndait. The CM placed it on the pedestal where it will remain for the rest of the Games.

In his speech, Sangma said, “Meghalaya is celebrating 50 years of statehood and to mark this we have to celebrate the youth. We were firm to host the North East Olympic Games in Shillong in this very special year. We have always believed that the youth are the greatest strength of the nation. We have to help them channel their energy in positive ways and hence we wanted to this the North East Olympic Games. Sports is not only about results but the personality that develops, like how to learn from a loss, improving and playing fair.“

Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh warmly welcomed all the 3,000 athletes and other visitors. “Volunteers and stakeholders have worked very hard in getting everything ready. Sports are an integral part of the journey of a human being and also helps the people stay fit and active,” he added.

MSOA Working President John F Kharshiing said, “We have used this opportunity to create new infrastructure and facilities for the smooth and comfortable experience for the athletes.”

NEOA President Th Radheshyam said that the whole purpose of the NEOG, which was launched in 2018, is to give a foundation for the youth. “We want to build on the aspirations for our children and help them accomplish their full potential. Our youth should have the best environment to build themselves up,” he said.

“Meghalaya has a remarkable way of doing things. The love and affection shown to everyone has been amazing,” he added.

Earlier, the welcome address was delivered by Chief Secretary, Donald P Wahlang, who said that the athletes are carrying the hopes and dreams of their states.

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