Gulf & Middle East
2014 Asian Games: Indian, South Korean officials in Kuwait
Apr 14, 2007 - 10:47:45 PM

Kuwait, April 14 - Delegations from India and South Korea, vying to host the 2014 Asian Games, arrived here almost at the same time Saturday morning. Both sides said that it would be a close fight between them.

Indian Olympic Association - president Suresh Kalmadi told reporters that India is confident of New Delhi winning the bid, but the delegation is not taking any chances.

'We know the bid is tough and we have our own strategy. We cannot disclose our strategy, but mind it, we are a strong contender and we have the support from our friends,' he said.

The general assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia - will decide the winner after its 45 member countries vote for the host city Tuesday.

The OCA will meet in Kuwait Tuesday to choose the winner between New Delhi, the Indian capital, and the South Korean city of Incheon as the host city.

Kalmadi was accompanied by Minister for Woman and Child Welfare Renuka Chaudhary, Haryana Tourism Minister Kiran Chowdhary, OCA secretary-general Randhir Singh, who is also secretary-general of the IOA, former sports minister Sukhdev Singh Dhingra, Olympian Aslam Sher Khan and others.

Indian Ambassador to Kuwait M. Ganapathi was at the airport to receive the delegation.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is also reaching Kuwait Monday to make the presentation in favour of New Delhi as probable host for the games.

Billed as the bid of a billion people, Kalmadi said: 'Hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2010 will give us the necessary infrastructure and experience to organise the Asian Games'.

'The government is backing our bid fully and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has shown personal interest in the matter,' the IOA chief said.

In lighter vein, Kalmadi, while replying to a reporter, said that let Korea concentrate on their bid for 2014 Winter Olympics and India get the 2014 Asian Games.

Delhi has offered free flights and accommodation to all the participants during the games. The transportation system in Delhi has also been widely acclaimed after the launch of the Metro train service, which is expected to improve its network by 2010, when Commonwealth Games are held in the city.

IOA delegations have toured Asian countries in recent days to canvass support for New Delhi. Last month, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed visited Kuwait in this regard.

India's plus point remains the fact that South Korea had organised the Asian Games as recently as 2002, in Busan, and Delhi says it is time for another nation to get the games.

Randhir said we want people to visit India and look for themselves the 70 percent population of the country comprising mainly of youths looking forward for sports as the useful tool to mould their lives.

'India is one of the founders of the games, had the honour of staging them in 1951 and 1982,' Kalmadi said. 'Thirty-two years is a long gap and it is time for the games to return to India.'

South Korean officials argue that India needed to look beyond Delhi when it came to staging major sporting events.

Korean Olympic Committee secretary general Kim Sang Woo, who also arrived here Saturday morning as a part of a strong delegation, said that Incheon was a strong contender for the 2014 Asian Games.

The bid has the support of the Korean government. 'Our tourism and culture minister, besides several MPs, will be in Kuwait to back our claims,' he said.

Woo said that the highlight of the Incheon would be promoting sports in the whole of Asia and the 'Vision 2014' to be presented at the OCA meet would highlight the country's commitment to promoting sports and raise the standard of Asians Games to the level of Olympics.

Incheon has decided to earmark $20 million exclusively for the promotion of sports in Asia and that Korea would emerge as one of the major international venues for sports events.

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