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C'wealth Games bid presented

May 30, 2003 20:55 IST

Flashing the card of Asian solidarity following support from Pakistan and Bangladesh, India presented its bid to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi on Friday, amid a splash of colour and vibrant bhangra dance.

Former Miss World Diana Hayden, who entered the venue, along with colourfully attired Rajasthan belles, to the beat of drums, handed over India's bid to Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Delhi faces stiff competition from Hamilton, Canada, the only other country in fray, but India fancies its chances of winning the bid, the result of which will be announced in Jamaica in November.

Presenting a strong case to host the event, Indian Olympic Association president and chairman of the bid committee Suresh Kalmadi said, "We are hopeful that India's bid would be accepted as it is fully backed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries."

He said India had successfully hosted the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982, but despite being the largest Commonwealth country it is yet to get an opportunity to host the Games.

Barring the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Commonwealth Games have never been staged in Asia.

Kalmadi said Pakistan extended its support without any pre-condition and also agreed to take part in the inaugural Afro-Asian Games, to be hosted by Hyderabad from October 24 this year.

At the Marlborough House, where the bids were presented, it was India all the way with smartly dressed Indian boys and girls ceremoniously welcoming the guests with flower petals and tilaks.

India were represented by a high-level 30-member delegation at the glittering function. The delegation included Sports Minister Vikram Verma, Delhi's Lt Governor Vijay Kapoor, All India Council for Sports president V K Malhotra and IOA secretary general Randhir Singh.

Pakistan Olympic Association secretary-general Latif Bhatt was also present.

Melbourne will host the Games' next edition in 2006.

Backing India's bid, Sports Minister Vikram Verma said the IOA has the full support of both the Union Government as well as the Delhi government.

"This is the moment India has been looking forward to -- to host the Commonwealth Games for the first time in its history. It will give a tremendous boost to sports not only in India but in the entire region," Verma said.

"It will be a proud moment for India, and I, on behalf of the Government of India, fully back the bid," he said.

"We hope this time we get the chance. Our claim is justified... being the largest country in the Commonwealth. We also have the experience of hosting two Asian Games. In the history of Commonwealth, only once has it been held in Asia -- in Malaysia.

"The spirit should be to promote sports in various parts of the Commonwealth. In this connection India should be allotted the Games this time," Verma later told newsmen.

Malhotra said he is sure of India winning the bid.

"We expect to get it this time. The feedback is almost certain. The support from Pakistan and Bangladesh has strengthened our case," he said.

Malhotra noted that India has a greater population than all the other Commonwealth countries put together and thus Delhi should not be denied an opportunity to host the Games.

The conceptualization of the cultural programme was done by Wizcraft Entertainment of Mumbai.

On behalf of Canada, five-year-old Marcello Britto handed over the bid to Prince Edward and hoped that Canada's brotherhood for people from virtually all of the Commonwealth countries will go beyond the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Representing the Government of Canada, Paul DeVillers, Secretary of State (Amateur Sport), said, "Canadians have the vision, the talent and the energy required to make the 2010 Commonwealth Games a success."

Mike Fennell, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said it would be a difficult task to decide between the two strong bids.

The bids will be decided through a vote by the 72 Commonwealth member countries on November 13 in Kingston, Jamaica.

Prior to that, the Evaluation Commission will visit both cities to make their report to the Executive Board of the Federation.

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