The 12-day Games, featuring 2,500 athletes from eight SAARC countries, will be declared open by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a glittering inaugural ceremony at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium today.
     
The multi-sporting event, being held under the aegis of South Asian Olympics Council, is happening after a delay of four years. The 12th edition of the Games was to be held in 2012 in New Delhi but was postponed due to Assembly elections in the national capital.
     
After that, the Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the International Olympic Committee between December 2012 and February 2014, leading to further delay.
    
After the IOA's suspension was revoked by the IOC, Kerala was tipped to host the Games but the event was handed to Guwahati and Shillong last year before another round of postponement.

The two cities thus got the opportunity to host India's third South Asian Games -- after Kolkata (1987) and Chennai (1995) -- and the biggest sporting spectacle ever in the North Eastern part of the country.
     
But, just a day before the opening ceremony, the organizers suffered a jolt when basketball was derecognized from the Games by the sport's world body FIBA.

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