Despite some last-minute glitches, the stage is set for the gala inauguration by President Pratibha Patil of the Commonwealth Youth Games-2008 (YG-2008) at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi in Pune on Sunday.
Billed as a dress rehearsal of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the CYG will see the participation of 71 teams from all Commonwealth countries across a gamut of events, from shooting to swimming and badminton to wrestling, over the next seven days.
"Over 1,300 participants have already arrived in the Complex and 700 more are expected by Sunday morning," CYG 2008 additional director general Lt Gen Ashok Kapur told IANS Saturday evening.
"Participation is enthusiastic and response is overwhelming," Lt. Gen Kapoor said.
He pointed out that two events, shooting and tennis, have been slotted for Sunday morning, that is, before the formal inauguration in the evening in order to accommodate as many events in a short span of one week.
He admitted, however, that sudden weather changes - it rained here Saturday evening - created some problems but said what was being witnessed in different sporting venues, stadia, and pavilions were finishing touches being given to the preparations for the mega-event and not chaos.
CYG 2008 chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who has been recently re-elected as the Indian Olympic Association president, was personally monitoring the preparations that he set afoot more than two months back right from selection of the venue that had hosted the 1994 National Games.
A galaxy of medal-winning sports stars from veteran sprint queen P.T. Usha to Olymmpic gold medalist shooter Abhinav Bindra have been invited for the inaugural event, besides Maharashtra Governor SC Jamir and Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
A surprise inclusion in the list of special invitees is that of tennis star Sania Mirza's mother Naseema in place of her illustrious daughter who would not be able to make it to Pune because of her preoccupations, the organisers said.
Karnam Malleshwari (weightlifting), Leander Paes (tennis), Rajyavardhan Rathore (shooting), Anju Bobby George (long jump) and Olympic medalists Vijender Singh (boxing) and Sushil Kumar (wrestling) are the other star invitees for the inaugural while yesteryears' veterans Milkha Singh and Bishen Singh Bedi have been invited for the concluding function Oct 18.
Providing some musical strains in the inaugural event would be playback singers Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal and Shankar Mahadevan.