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India Out Of Race!

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Hot off the wires:

NEW DELHI, April 23, 2007 (AFP) - India have dropped plans to bid for the 2016 Olympics after failing to secure the Asian Games in 2014, the country's Olympic chief said on Monday.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi also said the country was unlikely to win a major event as long as former diplomat Mani Shankar Aiyar was sports minister.

``We thought of bidding for the 2016 Olympics because we already have the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and were planning to host the 2014 Asian Games,'' Kalmadi told the Times of India.

``So by 2016 we could have had an Olympics for free, since by then infrastructure would have been in place.

``But with Aiyar around, there's no question of even attempting the 2016 Olympics. Now we have to look at 2020.''

New Delhi lost out to the South Korean port city of Incheon in the race for the 2014 Asian Games last week, a defeat Kalmadi blamed entirely on the sports minister.

Aiyar had said a day before the Olympic Council of Asia voted on the host city that running major sports events was only one way to improve the country's image since they did not benefit ordinary people.

Kalmadi said the remarks, widely published in the Asian press, cost India the Games, although New Delhi's pollution and congested roads are reported to have contributed significantly to the defeat.

``He (Aiyar) definitely sabotaged our bid,'' said Kalmadi.

``The prime minister supported us, the cabinet supported us, but naturally they focused on Mani Shankar's statement. Everybody thought that the government was not supporting the bid.

``We worked hard, but one man was determined to help out Korea.''

Aiyar justified his stand, telling the Times of India he was relieved New Delhi had not won the bid.

``My guess is, by not hosting the Asian Games we probably saved ourselves something of the order of 5,000 crore rupees (approximately 1.2 billion dollars),'' said Aiyar.

He said the money could be used to develop ``organised sports infrastructure, sports coaching and sports management for a large population of the neglected 720 million of our fellow countrymen.''

He added: ``The minute we do that we can expect to return a respectable medals tally.

``We have plunged from the height to the depth in cricket and hockey. We stand in the lowest segment in football-playing countries. We are virtually nowhere in athletics and other Olympic sports.

``The honour is being saved by just a handful of shooters, kabaddi players and the women's hockey team.

``You contrast this performance with that of China, who got eight times more medals than India in the Doha Asian Games.''

Kalmadi said the sports minister's ``uncooperative attitude'' could hit preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which New Delhi will host with an estimated budget of 1.64 billion dollars.

``With this attitude, it will definitely be hampered,'' said Kalmadi.

``I had been keeping quiet for the Asian Games bid. But I am very worried about it.

``We need to win medals. But the sports ministry is not ready to provide money for training of athletes.''

Jeez, the Indian Olympic Committee and the sports minister don't get on, do they?

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Having read the remarks of Aiyar, the sports minister, before the Asiad vote, he really did have a point, though. He mentioned much the same things as many of us here do when it comes to discussing the chances of a developing country getting the games.

That said, the IOA guy also had a point _ with the Commonwealth Games and the Asiad as run-up, India could almost have had an Olympics for free! That said, though, many of us here have also noted at times that the IOC doesn't seem that keen on awardingn the games to hosts using hand-me-down facilities.

India's real problem as I see it is they have to start building up some sports tradition outside of cricket. Cricket is all they seem to be interested in these days. They're not even a power in hockey any more, which used to be their Olympic strength. Once again Aiyar is probably right to say that money could be better spent in India on new community sporting infrastructure, coaching and sports management.

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I just find it funny they think they needed the Asian Games to get their 'free' Olympics. The Commonwealth Games will probably draw 6,000-7,000 athletes, and they are upgrading everything for those Games. Surely that is enough legacy for a strong Olympic bid? Either way - the money is sorely needed elsewhere - but that isn't really the point is it??

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Oh well. I predict India will eventually host the games sometime within the next 50 years. How about the 2048 games, 101 years after the independence of India? I like the sound of that. Also, 9% GDP growth each year, by then they should be fairly developed.

2020 does look like it could be time for another Asian games though... I think they should atleast try a warmup bid.

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That 2014 Asian Games vote was only between India and South Korea. Not much of a choice they had there. Makes one wonder if these Games are not worth getting, except for those which want to host one "really badly."

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Yeah, I can see India as the next Asian Olympic destination. The IOC would love to take on the world's second most populous country after taking on the first. That's a 1/3 of the world's population right there between the two, to newly embrace the Olympic movement with. I don't see the IOC being too anxious in returning to Japan when there's still new prospects in Asia to touch upon on. The 2008 vote should be something of an indicator when Osaka finished dead last with only 6 votes, against the eventual winner, more "exciting" & new-frontier, Beijing.

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This article is pretty vague, but it seems as if Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants some action taken on encouraging sports in India:

"Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh inaugurated the 'Indian Olympic Bhavan' in New Delhi emphasising on the need to make sports and games compulsory in schools and colleges.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said this would make India a major force in the international arena.

Calling for a "nationwide movement of youth in sports", Singh wanted a collective effort by "all stakeholders" in this direction.

The Prime Minister stressed that greater attention was needed on athletics and gymnastics, apart from mass games like cricket, hockey and football.

"I would like the Indian Olympic Association to work closely with the government, at the Centre and in the states and unleash a new wave of sports development. - DDNews"

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Rogge on an Indian Olympics:

NEW DELHI, April 28: Impressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's committment towards sports, International Olympic Council president Jacques Rogge on Saturday said India had a great chance to win the bid for the 2020 Olympics as the country would become a "sporting tiger" by then.

"I am impressed to see your Prime Minister is so committed to sports... New Delhi should bid for the 2020 Games," Rogge told reporters.

"We have a lot of expectations from India and we in IOC think India have great potential in sports.

"You have a young population of 70 per cent under 25, good infrastructure and the benefit of past experiences in organising the Games. You are also going to organise the 2010 Commonwealth Games and World Military Games and perhaps hockey World Cup to become a sporting tiger," he said.

"It is a matter of will and organisation and we are going to support India in its training, expertise... and also financial resources," he added.

Rogge, who is on his first visit to India since 1986, said it was important for a bid to have "best possible collaboration" of the government and the sporting organisation and private parties also.

"There cannot be a good game without strong cooperation between the government and the sporting organisaion and private parties," he said in reply to a query.

"It is for the prestige of organisation that all governments try to do their best. Sport is a force for good in every country," he added.

Rogge's last visit was in connection with India's proposed bid for the 1992 Games which was withdrawn by the Indian Olympic Association as the then Government was not convinced and the Games were eventually hosted by Barcelona.

Asked about India's chances of winning the bid on its first attempt, Rogge said "bidding for the first time is not a disqualifying factor".

"It is a different and very tough competition... it's a cool game but it is worth going for it... (although) There is only one winner. There is no silver and bronze medal (in winning the bid)," he said.

"The bid is always awarded seven years in advance. So for 2020 the bid will be awarded in 2013. You have six years to prepare an impeccable bid. You have to unite for it," he said.

"It is not always technicalities... sometimes it's not always physical and tangible things that count (in awarding the bid)."

IOA President Suresh Kalmadi said India would start preparation for the 2020 bid immediately after the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

"We will start our preparations as soon as the 2010 Commonwealth Games are over," he said.

Kalmadi also said that India had little chance to get the bid for staging the 2016 as Brazil or the United States were favourites to win it.

Rogge also said the Games were not just about competition but a legacy to every city.

"We strive for a very positive legacy. It is just not about two weeks of competition or 10,000 athletes but yes it's about competition, athletes, improving condition of people living there. I've seen Barcelona Olympics changing the face of city and so was with Sydney and Athens. Beijing will also change after the Games," he said.

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