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Pakistan backs India's Olympic bid

June 11, 2004 19:05 IST

The recent thaw in the relations between New Delhi and Islamabad was on Friday carried on to the sporting field with the Pakistan Olympic Association announcing its support to India's bid to host the 2016 Olympics and the Asian Games in 2014.

A five-member delegation of the POA, which was in Delhi to discuss about revival of sporting ties between the two countries, also announced staging of the first-ever Punjab Games later this year as part of the effort to normalise sporting relations.

"POA has always, even in the past, stood for India. It played a significant role in India winning the Commonwealth Games bid. We will now work together so that India gets the 2014 Asian Games and the 2016 Olympics," Muhammad Latif Butt, POA secretary general, told reporters.

"After yesterday's torch relay, we hope India would now be able to fulfill the dream of their people and the people of the subcontinent by hosting the Olympics."

Butt, also a vice-president of the Olympic Council of Asia, led the five-member delegation that included Munir Ahmed Dar, president of Pakistan Karate Association, Muhammed Nawaz Kasuri, president of Pakistan Tug-of-war Federation, S H Shah, president of Pakistan Table Tennis Federation and I H Khwaja, secretary of Punjab Olympic Association.

Butt also spoke about staging the Punjab Games at Patiala between December 5 and 11.

"The Games will be between Indian Punjab and Pakistan Punjab. This event is just the beginning. We are planning to organise more such meets to improve relations between the two countries. This is just an attempt to eliminate the distrust," Butt said at a joint press conference with secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association Randhir Singh.

"There would be 11 disciplines in the Games but we are discussing on what should be there. This year the Games will be in India and the next year, Pakistan will host it."

Butt said besides drawing the interest of the people, competitions between the two sides would also help the athletes to raise their standards.

"With regular exchanges we can raise the standard of competition in both the countries. The competitions will no doubt be very good."

Randhir Singh said India would be bidding in 2008 for the Asian Games (2014) and in 2009 for the Olympics (2016).

The IOA Secretary General also spoke about the proposal from the Cycling Federation of Pakistan to host a race from Islamabad to Delhi.

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