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India to host 2010 Commonwealth Games

MONTEGO BAY (Jamaica) Nov. 14. India will host the 2010 Commonwealth Games, becoming only the third developing country to host the prestigious event, member nations decided in a vote as rival Canada cried foul.

India made a last-minute offer before the vote on Thursday to give $7.2 million to train athletes — bettering a Canadian offer of $3.8 million.

India was the front-runner because it never has staged the Games, and voters were sympathetic to complaints that wealthy countries are picked too often.

New Delhi won 46 votes to Hamilton's 22 in a secret ballot, said Mike Fennell of Jamaica, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

``The people felt it was high time India got the Games,'' Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi said. ``It means a lot to us. We feel this will change the whole perception of the Commonwealth.''

India will be only the second Asian host for the Games, which are held every four years and attract about 5,500 athletes from the 72-member strengthening the union through sports.

The teary-eyed Canadian criticised India's last-minute promise that, if chosen, it would give US$100,000 to the Games association of each member to train athletes.

``We are not going to play the game that India has played,'' she said, complaining of ``the money that came on the table.''

Asked if India had bought delegates' votes with the offer, Kalmadi scoffed: ``No way! They already offered $5 million. We have only bettered the $5 million.''

With more than 1 billion people, India is the Commonwealth's largest nation and accounts for some 55 percent of the Commonwealth's population.

``This is very important for my country. Finally India is going to have the Games,'' Kalmadi said. ``It's a big business opportunity, many jobs for many young people.''

Both sides lobbied hard before the vote, staging ornate cultural displays and enlisting popular athletes like gold medal sprinter Donovan Bailey and cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar to woo undecided voters.

The only absent members were the South Pacific nations of Nauru and Vanuatu. Officials would not immediately reveal which other two nations did not cast votes.

New Delhi, India's capital and home to 14 million people, is to spend $423 million and build two new venues for the Games in addition to upgrading existing sites.

Indian officials and New Delhi city residents alike are delighted that their capital New Delhi would host the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and they expect a wealth of opportunities.

New Delhi on Thursday beat Hamilton, Canada by a vote of 46 to 22 to become the third developing nation to hold the major international sporting event.

Our Special Correspondent reports from New Delhi

The President of the All India Council of Sports (AICS), Vijay Kumar Malhotra thanked the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, on Friday on India winning the bid to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He also complimented the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President, Suresh Kalmadi, and the Secretary-General, Randhir Singh for successfully spearheading the campaign.

Mr. Malhotra said that it was due to the constant patronage given by the Prime Minister that India could host the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad. He noted that the Prime Minister had sanctioned Rs 200 crores for the games in Hyderabad.

The Union Minister of State for Sports, Vijay Goel, has said the Government's decision to underwrite the entire cost of hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games, clinched the bid in India's favour.

Addressing media persons here, hours after India was declared winner in the Commonwealth Games bid in Kingston (Jamaica), Mr. Goel said that it would help India position itself to stage the Olympic Games in future.

Meanwhile, the Union Sports Minister, Vikram Verma, who led the Indian delegation to Jamaica, has decribed India winning the Commonwealth Games bid as a historic decision for India.

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