The third Kabaddi World Cup kicked-off with a grand opening ceremony at the multipurpose stadium in the heart of Malwa late Saturday evening. Twenty-three teams, including 16 of men and 7 of women, from six continents were present in the sports stadium.
The show that started on sombre note captured everyone's imagination at the end with Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, starlet Asin of 'Ghajini' fame and German actor Claudia performed on the soundtrack of the former's forthcoming film 'Khiladi 786'. Akshay and Asin surprised the spectators as they entered the stadium on a decked up truck. The duo along with the German actor won the hearts of predominantly Punjabi audience by waving at them and saying 'Sat Sri Akal' to elderly in the crowd.
As the background music track switched to a latest song from 'Khiladi 786', the trio moved to the centrestage and gave a spirited performance with a troupe of 49 dancers. As the show reached its crescendo, the troupe of dancers froze on the stage and Akshay, Asin and Claudia moved out of the stadium in a convertible car, wishing a grand success to the third edition of Kabaddi World Cup.
Earlier, singer Taz from Stereo Nation and Miss Pooja mesmerised the audience with their foot-
tapping numbers as hundreds of dancers set the stage for the mega show.
Visual snippets gave an overview of the first two editions of the world cup, which have brought the traditional game of Punjab on the global sports arena.
The show began with 24 zorbing balls moved on the ground and dancers in eight transparent zorbing
balls created a spectacle as they formed various patterns, assisted by colourful LED lights. Perhaps, it was for the first time that such a show was performed in India. Captains of 23 teams entered the stadium riding pillion on Bullet motorcycles.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal appeared on the ground through a hydraulic lift. He came to the stage and shook hands with the captain of each team.
The moment the introduction ceremony was over, 'Jaanbaaz', the mascot of the world cup, appeared in a dramatic fashion on a hydraulic lift with a baton in hand.
'Jaanbaaz' handed over the baton to first athlete in the VIP enclosure. It was passed to the second waiting athlete and so on in the anti-clockwise direction till it reached Sukhbir and the chief minister declared the third edition of the Kabaddi World Cup open.
As the games were declared open, captains of all teams stepped forward to take an oath that they would play the game in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
Speaking on the occasion, the deputy chief minister said it was his dream to take traditional game of Kabaddi to the Olympic level. He said a humble beginning has already been made with the director of sports of International Olympic Association sending a communiqué to him wishing the world cup a grand success.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal gave credit to Sukhbir for taking kabaddi to the international level. He added that the state government has allocated record budget to sports department and 14 world-class stadiums have been constructed at a cost of Rs 200 crore. Badal announced that sports schools would be set up in each district of the state to groom budding sportspersons. He said Punjab, by attracting youth towards games, would be able to wean away them from the malice of drugs.
Homage paid to Gujral
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal paid homage to former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral and reiterated their resolve to make Punjab most literate in scientific temperament, which would also excel in sports, as visualised by the former prime minister.
The originally scheduled three-hour opening extravaganza was curtailed to an hour and 45 minutes in the wake of Gujral's death. It was decided to do away with 15-minute fireworks display at the ceremony. It was also decided not to hoist the flags of participating countries in view of the mourning period.