The national athletic delegation for the Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG) 2019 arrived in Maldives at 1650 hours on Monday.
The 23-member contingent arrived via a national airline's flight, 'Maldivian' which landed at Velana International Airport (VIA). In commemoration of the team's stellar performance, the airline was decorated with the national flag and the cabin and handling crew with the exception of captains were clad in national team jerseys.
The athletes were ferried to capital city Male' on four Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) vessels which docked at the presidential jetty at approximately 1730 hours.
A vast amount of citizens congregated at the adjacent republic square sporting national flags and wearing red, to join in the ceremony to welcome and congratulate the contingent for their successes in representing the nation in IOIG 2019.
The welcoming ceremony was lead by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed. Former President and incumbent Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Faisal Naseem also presided over the ceremony.
Furthermore, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was in attendance at the event to receive the athletic delegation.
Additionally, Ministers, state officials and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) personnel was part of the welcoming congregation.
The players received a red carpet welcome, after which the President shook each athlete's hands.
Welcoming ceremony festivities began with a special dance performance by Jamaaluddin School students.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof followed with a speech, praising the performance on display by the Maldivian athletes despite playing under high pressure circumstances. He declared that had the event taken place in Maldives, the national team would have conquered and attained at least 30 medals.
After thanking the national players, Minister Mahloof highlighted that their notable contributions will result in the advancement of Maldives' sports sector. He declared that this was just the beginning.
Concluding his speech, the festivities continued with the Sports Minister presenting the IOIG 2023 flag to President Solih. The flag was presented as a marker for the country to host the next such event.
The ceremony concluded with a group photo session for the national contingent, and the national anthem.