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Sports Minister blamed for failed bid

April 17, 2007 20:31 IST

The Indian Olympic Association openly blamed Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for its failed bid to host the 2014 Asian Games.

"This is a victory for Mani Shankar Aiyar," an upset IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said, in a reference to the minister's remarks that holding the Games makes no difference to the poor.

Aiyar was reported to have opposed India's bid when the matter came up before the Union Cabinet, which, however, approved it five days ago, after which the IOA delegation flew to Incheon for the bid along with leading sportspersons, like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Anju Bobby.

The Games were awarded to the South Korean city of Incheon by the 45-member Olympic Council Asia at the conclusion of its two-day General Assembly in Kuwait.

Aiyar's statement is said to have come handy for the Koreans.

The sports minister, at a CII function in New Delhi on April 11, had said: "Whether you hold the Commonwealth Games in Delhi or Melbourne, it makes no difference to the state of those living in the colonies opposite the stadium. In the case of Delhi, the reference could be to the slums on Yamuna bunds."

Immediately losing out to Incheon, Kalmadi said, "We looked a divided lot because of the sports minister's comments, which appeared in newspapers also."

South Korea will be hosting the Asian Games for the third time while India had staged the inaugural edition in 1951 and thereafter in 1982, on both occasions in Delhi.

India's bid on behalf of "a billion people" was based on its hospitality. It offered free flights and accommodation to all participants if the Games were awarded to Delhi, which is also staging the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The Koreans on the other pledged to spend US $20 million to support countries that haven't yet won medals in the Asian Games. There was no such offer from India which however promised US $2 million to each participating nation.

After a close Delhi-Incheon race, OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said, "There is no loser and no winner tonight. The only winner is the Asian Olympic movement and the growth of the Asian Games.

"It was very close. They both had weak points and strong points. From the marketing view point, Korea had the edge," he said.

During hectic lobbying, the IOA had stressed the Commonwealth Games four years prior to the Asian Games would have created adequate infrastructure. India's claims had been overlooked since 1982, it pointed out.

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