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India loses Asiad bid
Victory for Aiyar: Kalmadi
Sheelpa Kothari

Kuwait, April 17
India today failed in its bid to host the 2014 Asian Games at Delhi after which the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) openly blamed Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s recent comments for it.

“This is a victory for Mani Shankar Aiyar,” an upset IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said in a reference to the minister’s remarks last week to the effect that holding of big Games made no difference to the poor.

Aiyar was reported to have opposed India’s bid when the matter came up before the Union Cabinet, which, however, approved it five days ago after which the IOA delegation flew here along with leading sportspersons such as Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Anju Bobby George for the bid.

The 45-member Olympic Council Asia (OCA) at the conclusion of its two-day General Assembly here awarded the Games to the South Korean city of Incheon. For the Koreans, Aiyar’s statement is said to have come in handy.

After losing out to Incheon, Kalmadi said, “We looked a divided lot because of the Sports Minister’s comments which appeared in newspapers also.” South Korea will be hosting the Asian Games for the third time while India had staged the inaugural edition in 1951 and thereafter in 1982, both times in Delhi.

India had based its bid on behalf of “a billion people” on its hospitality and had offered free flights and accommodation to all participants if the Games were awarded to Delhi which is also staging the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The Koreans on the other hand promised to spend $20 million to support countries that had not yet won medals in the Asian Games. There was no such offer from India, which, however, give $2million to each participating nation.

After a close Delhi-Incheon race, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of OCA which controls sports in the Asian region, said, “there is no loser and no winner tonight. The only winner is the Asian Olympic movement and the growth of the Asian Games.” “It was very close. They both had weak points and strong points. From marketing view point, Korea had the edge,” he said. — PTI

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