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Home > India > News > Report

Torch relay: Kalmadi brushes off security issues

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | April 16, 2008 20:34 IST

The much-awaited press conference by Suresh Kalmadi, president of the Indian Olympic Association, turned out to be much ado about nothing. Mediapersons from foreign countries, especially journalists from the United Kingdom, were upset at the way Kalmadi brushed off most of their questions.

When queried about the time of arrival of the Olympic torch, and where it will be kept on Wednesday night, Kalmadi said, "It will reach Delhi as soon as it leaves Islamabad. For all you know, it may be hovering over Delhi right now. I still have no idea where it would stay for the night." After the repartee, he exchanged a smile with IOA secretary general Raja Randhir Singh and then burst out laughing.

President of All India Football Federation Priyaranjan Dasmunsi will take part in the torch relay on Thursday. Rahul Gandhi [Images] has reportedly declined the offer to participate in the relay, as he would not be in New Delhi on April 17.

Kalmadi, along with National Rifle Association of India president and Member of Parliament Digvijay Singh, will also participate in the torch relay.

Union Sports Minister M S Gill had advised politicians to keep away from the event and let sportsmen carry the Olympic torch.

Kalmadi and Randhir Singh refused to answer any questions related to the security arrangements for the torch. "Only the Home Ministry and the Delhi police commissioner can answer such questions," said the IOA president.

The sportsmen who will participate in Thursday's torch relay includes Wing Commander Nandi Singh, P T Usha, Shiny Wilson, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, Anju Baby George, K Malleshwari, Jaspal Rana and Leander Paes [Images].

"The Olympics [Images] has been my childhood dream, imbibed by my parents. It is a great honour to hold the torch," said Leander Paes, non-playing captain of the Indian tennis team.