Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi on Sunday announced that the first edition of Afro-Asian Games, being hosted in Hyderabad from October 24 to November 1, will attract 2,040 sportspersons from 97 countries.
Addressing a joint media conference with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Kalmadi vowed to make the Games the best sporting event ever held in India.
Apart from the sportspersons, 1,565 sports officials will converge on Hyderabad to conduct the Games in eight disciplines -- athletics, football, boxing, weightlifting, hockey, tennis, swimming and shooting.
Kalmadi said the Games, which were postponed thrice in the past and originally scheduled to be held in Delhi. were shifted to Hyderabad because it successfully conducted the 32nd National Games last December.
The Central Government has approved an outlay of Rs.103 crore for the conduct of the first inter-Continental Games. While the government would provide budgetary support of Rs 63 crores, the organizers will have to raise the remaining Rs 40 crore from private sponsors. The initial estimate for the Games was Rs.150 crore but it had been scaled down a bit, the IOA president pointed out.
Naidu said that since the city had already created massive sports infrastructure for the National Games, the facilities would be used for the Afro-Asian Games. The state will also build two new hockey stadia, near Gacchibowli sports complex on the city outskirts, for the forthcoming event.
The Chief Minister hoped that the Games would further boost Hyderabad's image as a destination for tourists. Seeking cooperation from the public, he said the sportspersons will be ambassadors from 97 countries and good hospitality will boost the city's image and strengthen its claim to host major events including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Olympics and Formula One car races in the future.
Naidu, who is the chairman of the organizing committee, said 17 committees with state ministers as chairmen and IOA officials as secretaries have been constituted for the conduct of the mega sports event.
The Florida-based IMG, which recently signed a MoU with the state government to create world-class sports academies and infrastructure at a cost of Rs 700 crore for future events, will assist the authorities in the conduct of Afro-Asian Games, he added.
Kalmadi said no stone will be left unturned for the success of the Games as India will be bidding to host the Commonwealth Games of 2010 and officials from the Commonwealth Games organizing committee will be present at the opening and closing ceremonies.
He disclosed that India wil be sending a delegation to Jamaica in November to bid for the Commonwealth Games. Canada, which has already hosted the Games thrice, will also be bidding for the Games. He said the Commonwealth Games will be held in New Delhi.
Naidu intervened to say that while the Commonwealth Games could go to Delhi, Hyderabad should be awarded the Asian Games and Olympics.
Kalmadi said the main objective of the Afro-Asian Games is to promote solidarity between the two continents. The next Afro-Asian Games will be held in Africa after two years and the venue will be decided at the forthcoming event, he added.