On the evening of June 15, the eighth National Sports Festival for Region I Ethnic Minorities opened in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai.

Nearly 600 officials, coaches and athletes from 17 teams from the northern provinces are taking part in the five-day event.

The athletes will compete for 163 sets of medals in nine events, including men’s football, volleyball, tug of war, running, badminton and crossbow shooting, and two folk games of tung con (throwing a sacred ball through the ring) and tu lu.

This is the first time badminton has been listed as an event at the games, reflecting the increasing popularity of the sport among ethnic groups.

According to organisers, more people are taking part this year than ever before, despite the economic difficulties facing many of their localities.-VNA