More than 1,000 people gathered at the Lekeythang ground in Punakha to celebrate Olympic day on April 7.

The event was held to enable mass participation in various sports. The playground where football and cricket matches are held at other times, exhibited 10 different sports including archery, and khuru.

Unlike last year, karate, table tennis, judo and basketball were not included at the sports festival this year. Karate, which is played in 11 dzongkhags with over 2,000 registered players, could not take part in the event for the last two years.

President of Bhutan Karate Association, Ugyen Wangchuk said the association could not participate because of inadequate manpower.

Bhutan Olympic Committees’ secretary general, Sonam Karma Tshering said the Olympic day celebration was important to introduce young children to sports. “Games and sports teach us the universal values of teamwork, disciplines, sportsmanship, and hard work. It can inculcate the values integral to the national philosophy of Gross National Happiness,” he said.

The annual event was celebrated in Wangdue last year. The initiative of taking multi-sports event to different dzongkhag every year was in line with BOCs’ vision of taking sports to all the youth.

The event saw Olympians, coaches, national athletes, and children experience sports together. It also had parents attending the event.

Rinzin Wangmo, 37, from Punakha was seeing her children play sports for the first time. “I don’t understand many of the sports but it is fun to watch,” she said.

The event also provided national federations to raise awareness on respective sports, and to encourage youth to take up the sport.

About 500 students also ran a five-kilometer fun-race along the Punakha – Gasa highway to mark the celebration. This was the 11th Asian Fun run organised across Asian countries to welcome the upcoming 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.

Bhutan was among the 30 Asian countries to organise the fun-run, which provided the runners an opportunity to be part of the Asian Games.

Karma Yoezer, 18, from Kabesa Central School reached the finish line first. The student athlete from Punakha said the fun run was an opportunity to promote fitness and healthy living. “I wish to become a national athlete in future,” he said.

Nineteen more fun runs will be organised across Asia before the 18th Asian Games opens on August 18, which would bring together athletes from 45 national Olympic committees from Asia.

A total of 26 athletes from four national federations will take part in four different sports event later this year. Asian Games is the second largest multi-sports event after the Olympic games.

His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, the President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee graced the event.



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