Pakistan cricket team might be fretting over safety concerns ahead of the ICC World T20, but Shillong-leg South Asian Games Organising Committee CEO R.K. Sharma said by successfully hosting over 300 athletes from the neighbouring country India has proved that security is not a concern at all.
The senior IPS officer, who was posted in Pakistan, further said the South Asian Games (SAG) reinforced the fact that security cannot be a concern for sportspersons visiting India from Pakistan.
“By hosting over 300 Pakistani top athletes and officials for over two weeks during the South Asian Games at the highly volatile region of Assam and Meghalaya we have showed that security is not a concern,” said Sharma, a recipient of Indian Police Medal in 1997 and Police Medal for meritorious services.
“It was fully incident free and ask anyone from Pakistan about their experience here and they would tell you,” he said.
The hill town of Shillong hosted eight of the 23 disciplines during the 12-day regional mega event. The small town was bustling with crowd like a festive fervour as tickets were sold out in most of the venues well in advance.
And Sharma said Shillong leg of the SAG was a “resounding success”.
“Shillong leg was a resounding success. We had record crowds witnessing the Games. An unprecedented four to five lakh saw the Games at various venues,” Sharma said.
Guwahati might have hosted the bulk of the events, including that of athletics but as far as the crowd share was concerned Shillong was way ahead.
“Guwahati is a big city and the venues there were spread out. Shillong being a small and sport-loving place, we got an amazing response,” he said pointing out the India-Nepal women’s football final which registered a record turnout of more than 20,000 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“Never before the stadium witnessed such an electrifying atmosphere. We have had I-League matches here but never before we saw such an atmosphere. And that too in a women’s football match. It was a real festive fervour,” said the 1983 Assam-Meghalaya cadre IPS officer.
He further pointed out that there was a big rush in badminton and boxing venues where tickets were sold out well in advance, though the capacity was restricted to only 500.
“That’s the best possible place in the city where we could host the event and we can’t do much about the capacity,” he said.