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'Aiyar's attitude hurting Indian sport'

IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi slams Union Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for his negative attitude towards hosting mega events like the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 02, 2007 05:16 PM IST

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi slammed Union Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar Thursday saying that his negative attitude towards hosting mega events like the 2010 Commonwealth Games was acting as an impediment towards the development of sports in the country.

"Through mega events we broaden the horizon of sports in the country. But people are doubting the necessity of hosting mega events like the Commonwealth Games," said Kalmadi, while addressing a workshop for planning and management of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The workshop organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) was attended by a few Australian experts in sports management, including Sandy Hollway, board member of the Australia-India Council and former chief executive of the organising committee of the Sydney Olympic Games.

"We failed to win the bid for hosting the 2014 Asian Games because a week before the bid in Kuwait city in April, our sports minister had put up a proposal before the cabinet to not bid for the games," Kalmadi said.

New Delhi lost the bid 19-26 to the South Korean city of Incheon. Most members of the IOA delegation believed that Aiyar's adverse comments about the games bid contributed to the defeat.

"The vision of the leaders is also important. Look at the way Russian President Vladimir Putin rallied to help Sochi win the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics or former British prime minister Tony Blair helped London secure the rights for the 2012 Olympic Games," Kalmadi pointed out.

He said that he had proposed the sports ministry prioritise 17 sporting events in which India would be taking part in the Commonwealth Games to be held Oct 3-14 in 2010.

"But instead we were shocked at the sports ministry's decision to downgrade our national game hockey from the priority list. It is our national game where we have won maximum medals at all levels," he said.

The IOA chief also said that the sports ministry was not ready to give money for the training of athletes in foreign countries.

"They are not ready to give the money to us or to the sports federations for the training of athletes in foreign countries and also for appointment of foreign coaches. They have allocated just $2,000 per month for foreign coaches but to get good ones, we need to pay them at least $7,000-8,000 per month," said Kalmadi.

On the draft of the new sports policy, Kalmadi said: "The policy should have been prepared in consultation with the IOA and other sports federations but this was not done."

The draft made by the sports ministry has ridiculed the IOA's efforts to host mega events like the Asian Games and Formula One. It said these would only generate short-term benefits for the country.

"We have to create Olympic icons and we can only do it by hosting mega events. Delhi will be a global city after the Commonwealth Games. The development activities that are taking place here are not only for the games but are also for the future," he said.

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