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'Torch relay will be a success in India'
April 09, 2008 15:06 IST
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Torch relay's global odyssey may have been marred by disruptions from Tibetans and human rights activists till now, but India is confident that it would pass through New Delhi on April 17 smoothly and be a "grand success".
"Much before what happened in London and Paris, we have already taken necessary steps in Delhi. I think we are going to have a very good torch relay," Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Suresh Kalmadi said in Beijing.
Kalmadi is in the Chinese capital to attend the General Assembly of Association of National Olympic Committees, which would be followed by the joint meeting of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board and NOCs for two days from Thursday.
The Olympic Torch has drawn the ire of Tibetan and human rights activists following China's crackdown to quell the unrest in Tibet.
Persistent attempts to disrupt the relay in London and replication of similar scenes in Paris that forced officials to extinguish the flame four times have fuelled anxiety and fears about the smooth global relay of the torch in its longest ever Olympic journey.
A large Tibetan population is living in exile in India and a concerned China had taken up the matter with the Indian government which has assured a smooth relay.
The London and Paris incidents and remarks of some IOC officials on Tuesday led to speculation that the global torch relay might be curtailed. But IOC vice-president Gunilla Lindberg said on Tuesday that there is no move to curtail the relay.
"No. Not that I have heard of. No," Gunilla said when asked about the talk of the Beijing global torch relay being curtailed. She also said it was "not on the agenda [of the IOC Executive Board meeting] to cancel anything."
Kalmadi said preparations for the relay in India had begun long back and the head of the organising committee of the Beijing torch relay had visited India and met him, the Delhi Chief Minister and lieutenant governor and "solved most of the problem areas."
He said all sportsmen are particularly excited about carrying the torch and many had volunteered. "We consider it a matter of pride."
Kalmadi said Sachin Tendulkar, Anju Bobby George, Milkha Singh, P T Usha, Aslam Sher Khan, Zafar Iqbal, Gurbhajan Singh Randhawa and former athletes and sportspersons in action are taking part in the relay.
"About 50 sportspersons will take part. So it is going to be good. I have no doubt that the torch relay in India will be a grand success."
Asked if there would be a curtailment of the relay route, he said, "We are still deciding on the route. We have not yet finalized on that. We are considering three or four routes."
Kalmadi was honoured with ANOC Award at a function during the biennial General Assembly of ANOC on Tuesday evening for his contributions towards the Olympic movement and promoting Olympic sports in India.
The award was presented by the International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and ANOC president Mario Vazquez Rana.
ANOC comprises 205 member countries which are a major force in promoting the Olympic movement.