Thursday, June 20

Delhi eyes Olympic bid despite troubles


THE HEAD of the organising committee for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi said Thursday that the event, which has been hit by chaotic preparations, could lead to India hosting the Olympics.

The Indian capital has suffered weeks of disastrous headlines ahead of the opening ceremony on Sunday, but Suresh Kalmadi said the Games would be successful and act as a springboard for an Olympic bid.

Teams arrived in Delhi to find the athletes’ village was unfinished and filthy, a new footbridge next to the main stadium collapsed injuring dozens of workers, and concerns about health, security and transport have also been high.

“The biggest legacy is Olympics. Cricket is the most popular sport in our country but it is played by just 10 countries,” Kalmadi, who is also president of the Indian Olympic Association, said.

“Olympics has all sports. We have to ensure that Olympics come up. This is our opportunity and CWG (Commonwealth Games) will help,” he said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Kalmadi, speaking at a sports business meeting in Delhi, dismissed criticism of the Games, which reached fever pitch when photographs were published showing foul toilets and dangerous uncompleted construction work at the village.

He said the Games had brought Delhi forward 10 years, with new infrastructure including major expansion of the metro system which now linked the airport to the city centre.

The Games appeared to be in jeopardy last week with several national teams on the brink of pulling out. A small number of athletes have withdrawn due to an outbreak of dengue fever in the city and fears of a militant attack. — AFP

Organisers said the accommodation had now been fixed and all arrangements were in place for the Games, in which about 5,000 athletes from nations formerly in the British Empire will compete in 17 different sports. — AFP