South Asian Olympic Council Meeting in Kathmandu - Image by Nepal Olympic Council @NocNepal (Twitter)

In a major boost for cricket in the South Asian region, the South Asian Olympic Council members have unanimously voted to include the sport as a discipline in the 2019 South Asian Games to be held in Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal. The games will now officially take place from Dec 01st – 10th, 2019.

The Games will have a total of 27 sports disciplines including athletics, basketball, boxing, archery, badminton, cycling, fencing, football, handball, judo, karate, kabaddi, shooting, squash, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling, wushu, kho-kho, and golf. As the hosts have the rights to add Games, Nepal has included cricket and paragliding in SAG 2019. The expected organisation cost for the Games is estimated around Rs 4 billion.

The Games hit a roadblock with lengthy bureaucratic process, disputes in the Nepal Olympic Committee and budget allocation by the government for hosting the 13th SAG 2019, that forced the organisers to postpone the games from Mar 2019 to Dec 2019. The new dates were approved from South Asia Olympic Council. The organising committee have also announced the official games mascot and logo.

Cricket is scheduled to be held in both Men’s and Women’s categories, with the Men’s category to feature U23 teams from participating nations with the provision to have 3 senior national squad members in the squad.

The Women’s category will be played by the senior national squads of the participating nations. Both Men’s and Women’s categories will be played in the T20 format and the Women’s category will be eligible to have T20I status accredited to all the matches.

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Secretary General of Maldives Olympic Committee, Ahmed Marzooq confirmed the development on his twitter timeline.

The Men’s U23 category will see India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Maldives & Bhutan take part in the tournament.

It will be a major opportunity for Nepal to host a multi-nation International tournament and showcase their hosting capabilities, with the last International matches were held during Kenya & Namibia’s visit for World Cricket League Championship fixtures.

The tournament will be the second International U23 event being held in the region with Asian Cricket Council’s Emerging Nations Asia Cup for U23 teams also operational in the same calendar year.

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