The 10th South Asian Games with 20 separate disciplines was hosted
from 18th to 28th August 2006 in the eight- nation games. The President
of the Indian Olympic Association and Chairman, Organising Committee of
the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi, Suresh Kalmadi had commended the Sri
Lanka Government and the National Olympic Committee for hosting the 10th
South Asian Games despite the trouble situation in the country.
Kalmadi thanked President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also the President
of the Steering Committee of the South Asian Games for his untiring
efforts in organizing this event on schedule. President Mahinda
Rajapaksa, Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa and Minister of Youth Affairs and
Sports Jeewan Kumaratunga were among the VIPs present at the opening
ceremony, where the chief guest, President declared the 10th South Asian
There were well over 2000 participants. The opening and closing
ceremonies were described by the local and foreign media as spectacular
with a rich blend of Sri Lanka culture, traditional arts possessing
extra ingredients to cater to different tastes and cultures of other
A colossal sum of money had to be obviously spent to conduct the
games successfully. The co- Chairman of the steering committee Hemasiri
Fernando, the Chairman of the National Olympic Committee and other sub
Committees had to toil hard to make this gigantic event, the largest
extravaganza in magnitude held in the annals of the history in our
country a success. It is learnt that Pakistan who hosted the 9th SAG in
Islamabad in the year 2004 did not earn so much of praise despite
spending a sum, relatively very much more colossal.
We the host nation should be proud that we possessed the required
infrastructure facilities to hold 20 separate disciplines conforming to
international standards. All events were telecast live from a special
main controlling station of the SLRC where the facilities were provided
for local and foreign media personnel to telecast live action not only
to the participating nations but also to a number of other countries
The organisers were fortunate to use the new synthetic track for
athletics laid at the Sugathadasa outdoor stadium for the August 2002
Asian championship meet. The outdoor swimming pool built for the 1991
SAF games was an ideal pool for an international swimming meet.
The other disciplines were worked off at the gymnasiums at University
of Colombo, St. Joseph's College, S.Thomas' Sports Complex, Sugathadasa
indoor stadium, NYSC, Welisara Navy Range, while hockey was conducted at
the Nandamithra Ekanayake International hockey stadium in Matale. All 20
separate disciplines were conducted at venues conforming to
'Peace and Unity through Sports' is the most appropriate theme of the
10th edition of the South Asian Games in all its glory and splendour. It
is the fervent hope of all of us that peace globally would be a reality
soon. All participants should realise that games should be displayed in
the best spirits, keeping in mind that winning or losing is not what
matters but how one plays the game.
Unfortunately today sports being highly professional and
commercialised and for the participants winning at all costs has become
primary, as everyone anticipate winning. But winning must be achieved
fairly and honourably. The games have helped immensely towards
strengthening the bonds of friendship and solidarity of the people of
the region, more particularly the youth.
The spectacular completion of the games was however marred by just
one isolated but conspicuous incident by restless unsporting jeering
spectators and even coaches who opposed when points were awarded to
Pakistan boxers in their bouts with Sri Lankan boxers Harshakumara and
Indika Kumara in the 59 kg and 69 kg category class events. The restless
spectators may not know how the points are awarded. Just throwing
punches do not earn points. The punches have to land on the opposite
The rule of boxing clearly stipulates that punches should land while
the boxer is not moving. The most deplorable fact is that this isolated
incident was unfortunately elaborated in the print and electronic media.
The judge is the best competent person and is unbiased in his decisions.
Otherwise the governing body the WBA will take stern action against
this individual. He has been nominated as he is competent and well
versed with the rules of the game. The print media in particular has
published views in almost every newspaper that injustice was meted out
to our two boxers.
This incident has been reiterated in the media and a senior sports
journalist who may be ignorant of the rules has reiterated in the Daily
News paper of 5th Sept accusing Pakistan judges, that we were deprived
of the gold medals under the caption 'Pugilists made to fight against
judges.' Others had accused the judges under the captions 'Silver is as
good as Gold;' 'Boxing floored by judges.'
What really should have been done that if there were any doubts was
for our President of the Sri Lanka Amateur Boxing Association (SLABA) to
send a recorded video cassette to the WBA for perusal and comments,
instead of tarnishing our sporting image and reputation by accusing the
Another notable feature which brought disrepute to the host nation
was the manner in which one of our Men's Table Tennis medal winner
behaved whenever he won a point against his Indian opponent. Each time
he was overjoyed and was running within the sports complex which is
unusual for an international player. The spectators were very biased who
never cared to cheer the opponents.
There was an incident when water was scattered in the playing area by
a spectator which resulted in a nasty slipping of a player from a
visiting country. Usually spectators are prohibited in taking water
bottles etc. into an Indoor Sports Complex.
Contrary to our medallist the Indian gold medallist Kamal Achahata
who is incidentally a commonwealth games gold medallist was very humble
in victory. His behaviour has to be emulated by all our players. The
manner in which he behaved while playing like a true champion was
described over the media by our commentators.
Well as all of us are aware our giant neighbours, India showed their
clear dominance over the closest rivals, Pakistan and host Sri Lanka, in
the medals tally. The total gold medals tally of India was very much
above those bagged by both Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It is pertinent to
mention that the Indians only participated in 17 of the 20 separate
disciplines in the games.
In conclusion, the achievements of the two overseas based young Sri
Lankan student swimmers, 14 year old Mayumi Raheem and 15 year old
Andrew Abeysinghe will be etched in the memories of all followers of the
Sri Lankan sports. The former based in Singapore bagged ten medals in
all including three golds, while the latter based in USA in the Miami
University bagged two golds.
Both of them swam their hearts out to make their motherland proud. A
special mention must be made in the manner in which young Mayumi Raheem
acted after winning the gold medal in the women's 50 meters breast
stroke when she celebrated her victory with the Silver and Bronze
medallists, Dali Akthar and Mahafuza Khatun both of Bangladesh by
embracing them in emotion with her arms around them.
This was simply true sportsmanship and was highlighted appropriately
in the print and electronic media. All our sports personnel must learn
to take victory and defeat in the same spirit and emulate our heroine
Mayumi Raheem, just 14 years old at the South Asian Games. This was a
real example of celebrating victory in a humble and decent manner. On
the overall the SAG was a sport's splendour.
No country in the World would deny the importance of it's National
Security. However, in Sri Lanka there are NGOs and some local elements
trying to prostitute national interests of the country for personal
It is well known among the knowledgeable, how many foreigners and a
few local expats arrive here on a 30-day tourist visa given to them and
work for some UN subsidiary and or other NGO without state supervision
and knowledge, against the State.
It is said that a bunch of local mercenary cronies who have
connections to low level Officers at MOD and at the Immigration obtain
the work visas for the above people without the proper documentation,
for a fee. When delays arise the above go to Maldives or Bangkok and
wait till the documentation is prepared or come back and get 30 days
It is high time that CID along with other intelligence units, check
the files and nab the cronies who are working against the national
interests of the country.
Since this cancer had gone for too long un-supervised, it may be time
for drastic measures to be utilised for the eradication of this menace,
such as was done in USA during McCarthyism; if this country is to enjoy
the benefits of a Unitary State with equal rights for all.
The government should be commended for reclaiming lost territory from
the LTTE, without declaring war, instead by merely defending from being
attacked, thereby saving many lives and property, which I must say is a
unique way of achieving same.
I have no doubt that all right thinking people would agree as the
right thing to do in a situation such as ours, where the state was
compelled to act as above. Furthermore. the territory in question is
what was forcebly taken over by the LTTE, which rightfully belongs to
the state, neutralizing this position, thereby causing no violation in
doing so. The forces should also be commended for making this possible
by their bravery and dedication in achieving same.
However, I do not advocate it was a solution to the above conflict.
Accordingly, an early settlement for a permanent solution is necessary
by uniting the south prior to uniting the north and east, making a
genuine negotiated settlement possible. This I believe is the only way
to usher in peace and prosperity to the entire nation, which I am
confident would be a reality only in the event of the above being