Kathmandu, Nepal, December 1, 2019: Showers of fireworks, an electric laser show, melodious folk dances and strident marching bands all came together sweetly as Nepal proudly displayed their resilience of being able to bounce back from disaster in a colourful Opening Ceremony to the 13th South Asian Games. Four years after being hit by a powerful earthquake which killed nearly 9,000 people and injured more than 22,000, Nepal hosted the regional showpiece for the third time, overcoming the odds to welcome close to 6,000 athletes and officials at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday, December 1. Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari declared open the 13th South Asian Games having witnessed athletes and officials from seven countries – hosts Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – take part in the traditional march past. “We have left no stone unturned. Hosting these Games was a huge challenge especially after the damage left behind by the 2015 earthquake. But today we show the world that Nepal has risen again,” said Ramesh Silwal, National Sports Council member secretary and South Asian Games executive committee chairman, to the cheers of the 15,000-strong crowd at the opening ceremony. The newly constructed Dasharath Stadium – itself ruined by the 2015 earthquake – holds special significance as it was also the venue for the inaugural South Asian Games in 1984. On Sunday, it throbbed to the sounds and beat of nearly 8,000 performers who showcased Nepal’s rich culture and diversity. “This stadium is the birthplace of the South Asian Games and we are proud to host this mega event for the third time,” said the President of South Asian Olympic Committee and Nepal Olympic Committee, Jeevan Ram Shrestha, in his opening address. “I have to thank the workers who have toiled day and night to get this event – the mini-Olympics from this region – ready. These Games will strengthen the Olympic values among South Asian nations,” Shrestha added. During the 10-day Games, 2,715 athletes will compete for 1,115 medals – 317 gold, 317 silver and 481 bronze – in 26 sports. Olympian weightlifter Kamal Bahadur Adhikari was the flagbearer for the hosts at the march past. The flame was lit by South Asian Games gold medallist and Olympian taekwondo athlete Deepak Bista. Popular Nepalese cricketer Paras Khadka then took the oath on behalf of the athletes while international badminton referee Deepak Thapa took the oath on behalf of the judges and referees.