One of my primary tasks as an Indian sports administrator is to bring up Olympic sport. I can see that interest is already growing substantially with a series of test events being conducted in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games. With the Games itself to be held in October, there is a new thrust to Olympic sport --- and that warms my heart. Yes, there are great days ahead for Indian sport.
I am delighted that Delhi has responded really well to some of the big-ticket events like the FIH World Cup hockey, Commonwealth Boxing Championships and the Badminton Asia Championships. I am also pleased to hear of how the infrastructure that is coming up for the Commonwealth Games has come in for praise from those who have participated in these events. I was at hand to hear the visitors speak highly about the facilities at the lawn bowls complex at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
With superb infrastructure coming up --- of course we know there is some fine-tuning to be done --- I am confident that our National Sports Federations, encouraged by the Indian Olympic Association and supported by a clutch of sponsors, will ensure that we have a regular series of sporting events in the country so that the people’s hunger for quality events is satiated. And that we make optimum use of the facilities created for the Commonwealth Games.
One of the biggest learnings from the test events has been the fact that while security is of paramount interest, we need to ensure that sports protocol is followed so that the Games Family --- athletes, officials, sponsors, broadcasters, media and spectators alike --- have a wholesome sporting experience. After all, for more than three-and-a-half decades since the 1974 edition in Christchurch, New Zealand, the Commonwealth Games has been known as the Friendly Games.
The Friendship through Sport theme will feature prominently in the coming week when I will be in Australia to be with the Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi. Besides, the Commonwealth Business Club of India, set up in partnership with CII and FICCI, will host road shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast --- all sporting cities that have held --- and we will showcase India and the investment opportunities that exist here.
Back home, the 20,000km route chosen for the Queen’s Baton Relay across 100 cities and thousands of villages in 28 States and seven Union Territories will also act as a great impetus for the promotion of the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi. Our genial mascot, Shera, is already gaining popularity across the country, with our road show in Kochi showcasing that fact.
We are in talks with a number of corporates who want to come on board as our partners and associates. In the coming weeks, we will also announce the plans for the launch of ticket sales and unfold Games merchandise which are important revenue streams for us in our effort to repay the Rs 1,620 crore loan that we will get from the Government to organise the Games.
Believe me, Team India --- the Governments of India and Delhi, the Indian Olympic Association, the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi --- will deliver a great Games.