Leh: The opening ceremony of the Khelo India Winter Games 2024 (KIWG) unfolded in grandeur at the Nawang Dorjay Stobdan Stadium in Leh on February 2, marking a historic debut for Ladakh in hosting the prestigious event. The ceremony, held over five days, saw the participation of fifteen states and two public institutions, showcasing their prowess in ice hockey and ice skating.
Brig. (Dr) B.D. Mishra (Retd), the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, graced the event as the chief guest, underscoring the significance of the occasion. The Games will be split into two parts, with the second leg scheduled to take place in Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, from February 21-25.
On this special day for Ladakh, Indian PM Narendra Modi sent a message to the organizers, emphasizing how Khelo India is uniting the nation. PM Modi remarked, “The Khelo India Winter Games epitomizes this spirit further, aiming to nurture champions and position the regions of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, as premier winter sports destinations globally.”
A major announcement accompanied the celebration as Ladakh was gifted a Khelo India Centre of Excellence. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Sports Authority of India and the sports department of the Union Territory of Ladakh. This marks a significant milestone for Ladakh, hosting a major national event for the first time.
The Khelo India Centre of Excellence in Ladakh will focus on three sports – athletics, archery, and boxing. The move is well-received, with officials expressing optimism that this initiative will provide much-needed facilities and improve standards for sportspersons in the region.
The opening ceremony, attended by a diverse audience, featured traditional folk dances and performances by the local band, Dashugs. An exhibition ice hockey match between UT-Ladakh and Indo-Tibetan Border Police set the stage, followed by a thrilling 500-meter short-track ice skating event by a team of girls from across India.
Day 1 also witnessed the awarding of the first medals. Eklavya Jagal of Uttar Pradesh clinched gold in the under-17 short track (300m) skating for boys, while Karnataka’s Akash Aradhya secured gold in the 17-plus category.
With eight teams in men’s ice hockey and four in women’s ice hockey, the competition has already begun, promising an exciting showcase of talent. For live updates and medal tallies, visit the official website: https://winter.kheloindia.gov.in/