PANCHKULA: Panchkula has laid out the red carpet for close to 4,700 athletes, including 2,262 girls, and their support staff as the biggest Khelo India Youth Games ever are set to start from June 4.
The Tau Devi Lal Complex (TDCL) here has been decked up for the grand Opening Ceremony.
It will also be the hub of all action, with several of the 25 disciplines being held at the newly constructed Multi-Purpose Halls. Among the popular games being held here are Athletics, Football, Badminton, Table Tennis, Kabaddi, Handball, Wrestling, Volleyball, Boxing and the five Indigenous Games.
Four other cities, Ambala (Gymnastics, Swimming), Shahabad (Hockey, Chandigarh (Archery and Football) and New Delhi (Cycling and Shooting), will also play the role of hosts.
For the first time, all 36 states and Union Territories are taking part in this edition of the Khelo India Youth Games, with hosts Haryana fielding the largest contingent of 398 athletes.
Defending champions Maharashtra are fielding the second-largest contingent with 357 athletes and third-placed Delhi 339. Andaman & Nicobar are sending the smallest squad of six, all cyclists, while Ladakh will boast of seven.
The glamour discipline of athletics will see the maximum participation with 392 entries in various events. Wrestling, where India's international prospects are rather bright, will attract 323 grapplers while some of India's most promising swimmers will be among the field of 251 who hope to make waves in the pool.
In boxing, 236 pugilists will be trading their flying fists in the ring.
Among the Olympic team disciplines, hockey will witness 288 players wielding their wands while an equal number will indulge in a kickabout in football.
Of the traditional Indian team sports, kabaddi and kho-kho will feature 192 participants each. The four new indigenous sports - gatka (227), mallakhamb (218), kalariyapattu (187) and thang ta (140) - have attracted an enthusiastic response from participants along with the more familiar discipline of yogasana (87). The Cricket Stadium in Panchkula will host these events along with kho-kho.
The most heated action in the individual events will be witnessed in swimming and athletics where 114 and 96 medals respectively will be at stake. Karnataka, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Delhi will be vying for top honours in swimming while Kerala, whose star athletes have mostly kept away due to the off season, will strive hard to set the track on fire.
"Haryana is a sporting state and we are keen on creating an atmosphere at the Games that everybody will enjoy," Satyadev Malik, Deputy Director of Haryana sports department, said.