|Early Times Report|
GULMARG, Feb 26: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the second Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg and said that the event is a step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports.
Athletes from 27 states and Union Territories are competing in the Games which will conclude on March 2.
"This is a step towards making India's presence felt in the international winter games arena and also make Jammu and Kashmir a hub of winter sports," he said in a virtual address.
These games in Gulmarg show that Jammu and Kashmir is eager to reach new heights of peace and development. These Games will strengthen the resolve for 'Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat'.
"I am told the participation has doubled this year and it is a reflection of the inclination towards winter sports in the country," he added.
The disciplines to be completed the Games include alpine skiing, nordic ski, snowboarding, ski mountaineering, ice hockey, and ice skating among others.
"When you show your talent in Khelo India-Winter Games, remember that you are not just a part of a sport, but you are also the brand ambassador of a self-reliant India," the PM said addressing the 1200 participants who have converged at the picturesque Gulmarg.
"The world evaluates India through what you do on the field," he added.
The Games are being organized by the sports ministry and the Winter Games Association of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The two Khelo India centres of excellence in Jammu and Srinagar and Khelo India centers in 20 districts are great facilities for the young players. Such centers are being opened all over the world," the PM stated.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and Union Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Shri Kiren Rijiju also addressed the huge gathering during the inaugural ceremony of the mega event at world famous winter sports destination Gulmarg.
Speaking on the occasion, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha called upon the participating sportspersons to spread the message of Peace, Unity, Goodwill, Love and Empowerment.
Let us share this experience of unifying the power of sports with the world, remarked the Lt Governor.
Gulmarg has been acknowledged as a promising Winter-sports destination in the International circuit. Khelo India Winter Games is not merely an event, it is a mission to bring together the youth from all over the country and showcase our sporting talent to the world, observed the Lt Governor.
The Lt Governor said that the mega event is one of the many efforts aimed at engaging the youth in constructive and positive activities.
Expressing gratitude towards the central government for taking several measures for the development of the sports sector in J&K, the Lt Governor observed that the Government of India under the able leadership of the Prime Minister is providing state-of-the-art sports infrastructure, world class coaching and modern resources for promotion of sports in J&K.
We are taking sports to the panchayats and villages of J&K. Within a year, every panchayat in the UT will be equipped with modern sports facilities. This will give further push to the Fit India Movement, observed the Lt Governor.
Prime Minister's dream of organizing Winter Games in India was fulfilled last year with the first edition of Khelo India Winter Games. The success will be repeated this year as well with the joint efforts of the Government and the enthusiasm shown by the people towards winter games, he added.