India is all set to welcome in Attari the Queen's Baton Relay for the 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi that will enter Punjab from Pakistan on Friday morning.
After crossing the Attari border, some 30 km from the Sikh holy city Amritsar, Pakistan Olympics Association president Syed Arif Hassan will hand over the baton to his Indian counterpart Suresh Kalmadi, who also heads the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games, at 9.25 a.m.
Indian and Pakistani artistes will perform at an hour-long function at the border, Raja Sidhu, a key organiser, said. Mike Fennell, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, will be the chief guest.
The Commonwealth Games begin in the Indian capital Oct 3. It will be the country's biggest sports extravaganza after the 1982 Asian Games.
On hand to welcome the baton will be Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Congress leader Sachin Pilot and Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper.
A commemorative postage stamp related to the relay will be released on the occasion.
The baton, with a message from the Queen inscribed on it, will be handed over to Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh and women world boxing champion Mary Kom to start the Indian leg of the relay, Sidhu said.
Thereafter, the Punjab leg would commence when Badal hands over the baton to prominent sportspersons of the state.
Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and the mayor of Amritsar will receive the baton on the outskirts of the city. The baton will be placed for public display at the Company Bagh.
Navjot Sidhu told IANS: "This is a very important event for Amritsar. I urge the residents to come out in large numbers to extend a warm welcome to the baton."
The relay will proceed at 8 a.m Saturday to Jalandhar, Phillaur and then Ludhiana in Punjab. It will again go on public display at Patiala.
On Sunday, the relay will move to Hoshiarpur and Pathankot.
It will be handed over Monday to the state and Olympics authorities of Jammu and Kashmir.
In India, the baton will cover most states and union territories, travelling a distance of over 20,000 km, before finally reaching New Delhi Sep 30.
The baton for the Delhi Commonwealth Games was launched by Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace in London Oct 29 in the presence of Indian president Pratibha Patil.
India's only individual gold medal winner in the Olympics, shooter Abhinav Bindra, was the first baton-bearer of the longest baton relay for any Commonwealth Games.