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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 12:13 GMT
India hails Commonwealth bid
The closing ceremony at the 2002 Commonwealth Games
The 2002 Games were held in Manchester
India has hailed the decision to award Delhi the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Officials describe it as a huge opportunity - particularly for the country's fast-growing economy.

The Indian capital beat its Canadian rival, Hamilton, by 46 votes to 22 to win the right to host the event, which brings together about 5,500 athletes.

Delhi will be only the second Asian city to host the four-yearly event, following in the footsteps of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, in 1998.

India had been favourites to win the vote at a meeting of member nations in Montego Bay, Jamaica, having twice had unsuccessful bids in the past.

It is a huge victory for India, and a big opportunity
Indian bid leader Suresh Kalmadi

Indian officials describe the decision to award Delhi the Games as a big victory and a huge opportunity.

"It's good for the country, it's good for the Olympic movement in India. We needed a boost like this to bring up Olympic sport in line with cricket," the president of the Indian Olympic Association, Suresh Kalmadi, told the BBC.

"It will help build the country and make Delhi a modern city... It's going to do wonders for the city."

Boost for Delhi

It is also being seen as an opportunity to showcase India as one of the world's fastest growing economies.

Many residents of the Indian capital hope that it will transform the city in the way the Asian Games did in 1982, when Delhi was its host.

It's one thing to host the games but winning medals is the main thing - if India can do that, then it would be good
Delhi resident
"We are hoping that the games will spur the government into providing better facilities, like providing more roads, speeding up the metro rail project and building more parks, sports and recreation facilities," Anupam Joshi, a textile trader, told the Associated Press.

The country will spend more than $400m on the games, mostly on building sporting facilities and infrastructure in Delhi, a city of 14 million people.

But some people question whether India can raise the funds for the event and, indeed, whether it is right to spend that much on a sporting event.

"I don't support this kind of expenditure on such events," one woman told the BBC.

"We're a poor country. It's better to spend the money elsewhere - on building up the nation."

Performance

Another person pointed out that India was not a major sporting power and therefore, hosting the Games was meaningless.

"It's one thing to host the games but winning medals is the main thing. If India can do that, then it would be good," he said.

Many will hoping India can improve on it's performance in the last Games, held in Manchester, where it finished a surprise third in the medals table.

"We will work hard to finish top of the table in 2010," Mr Kalmadi said.

Observers say that is a tall order in a country where cricket is still the main passion of sport fans.




SEE ALSO:
Delhi wins vote
14 Nov 03  |  Other Sports
'Close fight' for 2010
06 Aug 03  |  Other Sports
Innovative plans for Games bids
30 May 03  |  Other Sports


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