The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) says it plans to stage the 14th South Asian Games (SAG) prior to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2023.
“Although dates are yet to be finalised, we will try to hold the Games before the PSL 2023 season,” POA Secretary General Khalid Mehmood told ‘The News’ on Monday. He said that most of the matters, including venues, about the biennial spectacle would be finalised in Ramadan.
“In Ramadan mostly the academic work will be completed such as venues. We have also received proposals from federations regarding their training and coaching requirements and other related issues,” Khalid said.
Pakistan will need quality preparations for the important assignment and will need to exploit home conditions. They will need foreign tours also. And Khalid says it all depends on how much the government can support.
“It depends on the government’s stance at that time how it can support the federations in their quality preparations,” he said. “As we are hosting the Games definitely we will need more preparations,” said Khalid.
The POA has formed a working group to evaluate various matters regarding the four potential venues in Punjab, their renovation and construction, and requirement of equipments. The first meeting of the group was held the other day in Lahore.
Khalid said that the current year would be difficult as far as launching preparation is concerned. He added that from early 2022 the preparatory process would properly start.
“I think 2021 seems to be a very difficult year because of a new spike of Covid 19. Yes, from January 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022, at the PSB level preparations will be made and then from July 1 to December 31, 2022 federation-level preparations will be made which may include foreign training subject to state support. The plan is to hold National Games in September 2022 and from October to January 2023 there will be centralised camps for SAG,” Khalid said.
Pakistan was supposed to host the SAG by the end of this year but due to late state response the event got delayed. The POA plans to conduct the spectacle in Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Gujranwala. A couple of events may be hosted by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Asked if SAG football event could be organised in Karachi, Khalid said it would be very “difficult” keeping in view various factors. This will be the third time that Pakistan will be hosting the South Asian Games.
The country got the honour to host them in 1989 and 2004 in Islamabad. At a high level meeting of the key stakeholders with the Prime Minister Imran Khan recently it was decided that every effort would be made to host the spectacle in the most befitting way. Punjab government has already given its full assurance to the POA that the provincial government would leave no stone unturned in conducting the competitions. The event’s dates will be finalised after taking input from the South Asian Olympic Council.