Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Indians overjoyed at Commonwealth Games bid success

AP , NEW DELHI

Indian officials called the country's successful bid to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games a big opportunity, while residents of India's capital said it could mean a welcome facelift for the city of 14 million and give the nation another ambitious target: hosting the Olympics.

New Delhi, India's capital, on Thursday won the secret ballot to host the games, becoming only the third developing country to host the world's second-largest multi-sport event. It defeated Hamilton, Canada by a vote of 46 to 22.

"It is a huge victory for India, and a big opportunity," Suresh Kalmadi, president of the Indian Olympics Association, told the state-run All India Radio from Montego Bay, Jamaica, where the vote was held. "We got more than twice the votes they got. That's big."

This was New Delhi's third bid to host the Commonwealth Games. The Indian capital had earlier lost out to Auckland, New Zealand, in the voting for the 1990 games and to Victoria, Canada, for the 1994 event.

"This ... is definitely going to help in development of sports not only in India, but the whole of the subcontinent," said Gurbux Singh, India's hockey team captain from 1966-69 and member of the team that won the gold medal in the 1964 Olympic Games.

For some, India's successful bid brought hopes of new jobs and a facelift for New Delhi. Many of the capital's modern facilities were built in the early 1980s, when the city hosted the 1982 Asian Games.

"It will provide a new look to India's capital, and will be an opportunity to create more jobs, because of the massive work related to the preparations," said Kailash Chandra Papnai, an editorial commentator on the state-run radio.

"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," said Anupam Joshi, a textile trader.

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