Gulf & Middle East
Delhi loses bid, Incheon to host 2014 Asian Games
Apr 17, 2007 - 9:06:32 PM

Kuwait City, April 17 - Money power is believed to have played the crucial difference as South Korean's Incheon city, which offered $20 million to the voting countries, beat New Delhi's bid Tuesday to win the right to host the 2014 Asian Games.

A total of 45 countries voted to choose the host city for the 17th edition of the games in a secret ballot at the Marriott Hotel here. Keeping with the tradition, the margin of victory was not announced by the Olympic Council of Asia -. But it was believed that the margin could be between one to five votes.

The result surprised the huge Indian contingent, especially as the Indian Olympic Association - president Suresh Kalmadi had announced $200,000 each to the 45 countries for athletes' preparations and promised to pay the amount by December next year.

Kalmadi straightaway blamed Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for the defeat. 'Mani Shankar Aiyar has won,' said Kalmadi tersely after the defeat.

Aiyar, who is also the panchayati raj minister, had been against India hosting the multi-million rupee games. He believes that the country would gain nothing out of these events, and says that the money could be spent in a better way.

OCA president Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who announced the result, said he was surprised at New Delhi losing the bid.

'Today morning I thought India would win. But, personally, I was surprised that New Delhi lost,' he said.

Earlier, New Delhi won the right to make its presentation after Incheon, the third largest South Korean city, wresting the advantage if it came down to offering money to the countries.

Besides the money, Kalmadi also said that free return air tickets and hospitality, in traditional Indian style, would be provided to all participating athletes and officials of the games if allotted to New Delhi.

But even the money power failed to win the games for New Delhi.

'We could not have gone beyond Rs.50 crore - as there was a cabinet cap on that figure,' a top IOA official told IANS.

Incheon said that it would provide free return air tickets and hospitality to all athletes and officials. It also announced the probable dates for the games, Sep 19-Oct 4, 2014. Delhi had proposed between Oct 4 and 19.

On the issue of distances between the athletes' village and the various stadia, New Delhi said it would take 20 minutes to reach each of the 30 venues that were proposed while Incheon said it would take 30 minutes over the same distances.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, S.K. Arora, secretary in the ministry of sports, industrialist Rahul Bajaj, who represented the Confederation of Indian Industry, which represented the country's industries, backed the Indian bid.

Besides, a recorded video message of Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh, backing Delhi's bid, was shown on the giant screen during the bid presentation.

The delegation also comprised some of the country's top athletes, industrialists and actors. Several IOA officials, industrialist Rahul Bajaj, social activist Nafisa Ali, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury, long jumper Anju Bobby George, Olympic silver medal winning shooter Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, hockey Olympian Aslam Sher Khan and Haryana Tourism Minister Kiran Chowdhary were among the people present.

IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh, who was elected OCA secretary-general for the fifth time at the OCA general congress Monday, and Indian Ambassador to Kuwait M. Ganapathi had worked quietly behind the scenes. But all their efforts eventually went waste.

'I am surprised at the result. But I am sure Incheon will do a good job in hosting the games,' Singh said.

While New Delhi had hosted the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 and then in 1982, Incheon has never hosted one.

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