New Delhi: Inaugurating the grand Khelo India University Games in Odisha on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the event is a ‘historic milestone’ and a major step forward for Indian sports. Also Read - EU Stands With India in 'Challenging Time', Modi Says 'Collaboration Essential' to Stop Pandemic

“I’m connecting with you through technology, but there’s an atmosphere, which is enthusiasm, which is passion, which energy, I can experience,” the Prime Minister said addressing the opening ceremony of Khelo India University Games, through video conferencing. Also Read - Pressure Mounts on Modi Govt to Impose Nationwide Lockdown; Oppn Says Total Shutdown 'Inevitable' 

“Today, Odisha has created a new history. The first-ever Khelo India University Games in India’s history is going to begin. This is a historic milestone in India’s sporting history, a major step forward for the future of India’s sports,” PM Modi stated. Also Read - PM Dials Chief Ministers Of 4 States To Discuss Covid Situation In Their States. Read Details

Encouraging the participants, PM Modi said that it is extremely important to improve past performance in order to be able to strive for the 200 gold medals in the days to come. “Give your own strength a new height. In Bhubaneswar, you are not only competing with each other, but you are also beating yourself,” he said.

“80 records have been broken during this year’s Khelo India Schools Games. Out of which, 56 records were made by girls. Players from poor families and small cities are doing very well in these games,” PM Modi stated.

“Today is not just the beginning of a tournament, but the beginning of the next phase of the sports movement in India,” he added, highlighting how the ‘Khelo India’ campaign has played a pivotal role in the recognition of young talents in sports in every corner of the country.

Notably, a total of 3,400 athletes from 159 universities across the country are fighting for the top honours in 17 different disciplines, including Rugby.

Present on the inaugural ceremony of the sports event were Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Dharmendra Pradhan, who holds the petroleum and natural gas portfolio in the union cabinet, among others.