Sheelpa Kothari, Kuwait, April 17 (PTI) India today failed in its bid to host the 2014 Asian Games at Delhi after
which the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) openly blamed Union Sports Minister
Mani Shankar Aiyar's recent comments for it.
"This is a victory for Mani Shankar Aiyar," an upset IOA president
Suresh Kalmadi said in a reference to the Minister's remarks last week to the
effect that holding of big Games made 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 here along with leading sportspersons such as Rajyavardhan Singh
Rathore and Anju Bobby George for the bid.
The Games were awarded to the South Korean city of Incheon by the 45-member
Olympic Council Asia (OCA) at the conclusion of its two-day general assembly
here. For the Koreans, Aiyar's statement is said to have come in handy.
The Sports Minister 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".
After losing out to Incheon, Kalmadi said, "We looked a divided lot
because of the Sports Minister's comments which appeared in newspapers
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, both times in
India had based its bid on behalf of "a billion people" on its
hospitality and had offered free flights and accomodation to all participants if
the Games were awarded to Delhi which is also staging the 2010 Commonwealth
The Koreans on the other hand promised to spend $20 million to support
countries that had not yet won medals in the Asian Games. There was no such
offer from India.
After a close Delhi-Incheon race, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president
of OCA which controls sports in the Asian region, 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
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 had pointed out.
Randhir Singh, secretary general of the IOA, echoed Kalmadi's view that India
did not present a united front to the OCA.
"I have no idea what went wrong. We have learnt a lesson, that we have
to work together," Randhir, also the secretary of the OCA, said.
Former hockey player and 1975 World Cup gold medallist Aslam Sher Khan, who
was part of the delegation, was more forthcoming. "In the light of Sports
Minister's disinterest in hosting the Games, we looked a divided lot. That could
well have been the reason (for India's failure)," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit refused to comment when asked if Aiyar's
comments might have influenced the outcome of the bidding.
"I can't say that," she said adding "we were very hopeful and
we were sure good in our presentation but I don't know on what basis they
decided it. If a city like Delhi can't host the Games, then I don't know what
could be the criteria."
Earlier, South Korean bidding committee chairman Shin Yong-Suk in his
presentation underlined the fact Incheon had the full backing of the government
as well as the corporates.
"In our delegation, cultural heads, members of city council, many
company CEOs are with us. There are also three standing committee
chairmen," he said.
During India's presentation on Delhi as host city, Kalmadi emphasised the
support of the government by highlighting Primier Minister Manmohan Singh's
special message reaffirming the determination to stage the event.
Kalmadi argued that India had always fulfilled their bid promises unlike
other countries. He also highlighted that South Korea had recently hosted the
"After 2002 Asian Games in Busan and 2006 Games in Doha set the
benchmark, we'll try to raise the bar in 2014. The Commonwealth Games to be held
in 2010 in Delhi will leave the infrastructure ready for the event," he