The Modi government has identified poll-bound Madhya Pradesh as the venue for the 5th edition of Khelo India Youth Games at the beginning of next year, announced Union sports minister Anurag Thakur on Thursday.
The games will be organised between January 31 and February 11, 2023, nearly nine months before chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seeks another term.
Chouhan and his sports minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, an influential figure from Gwalior’s royal family, were present at the event where Thakur announced the schedule for the games in New Delhi on Thursday.
The games will be held in eight cities of Madhya Pradesh – the capital Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Mandla and Balaghat.
Mallakhamb, the state sports of Madhya Pradesh, is a part of the games. It will also be part of the 2026 Paris Olympics.
Speaking on the occasion, Union sports minister Thakur said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision is that we should play the Olympics but promote our traditional games as well.”
He said that Khelo India has played an important role in ushering in a sports ecosystem in the country.
“More than 8500 participants will take part and these participants will get a chance to visit and see the Mahakal Lok and other tourist destination points of Madhya Pradesh,” said Thakur.
CM Chouhan said that his government has developed top-level sports infrastructure in the state. “We have 11 academies for 18 games. Water sports have been added for the first time.”
Referring to the recent introduction of Cheetahs to Kuno National Park, Chouhan said: “Madhya Pradesh was the leopard state, and now it is also a cheetah state. Participants will be able to see tigers themselves” he added.
Khelo India Youth Games were started in 2018 as Khelo India School Games in Delhi. The second edition of the games was hosted by Maharashtra in 2019, Assam in 2020 and Haryana in 2021.
Four indigenous games were added to the event in 2020, including Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.
A total of 12 national records were broken in the last edition of the Khelo India Youth Games. Haryana emerged as the winner with a count of 137 medals followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka.