SPORT

Govt. official gives a boost to Organising Committee for Commonwealth Games

NEW DELHI: The Organising Committee for the Commonwealth Games 2010 (OCCG) found a `resourceful' ally on Monday in the newly-appointed Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports secretary S.Y. Quarishi. "Don't have revenue in mind, if you want to do it for national prestige, just do it", Dr Quarishi said during a discussion at the Australia-India Forum on sports excellence, management and planning for the games.

Personal view

Dr. Quarishi was quick to add that this was his personal view and he hoped that the Union Government would also have a similar opinion on the subject. With costs mounting, any number of new infrastructure facilities being proposed by the OCCG and questions about funding likely to crop up, Dr Quarishi's words must have come as a great relief to the OCCG officials present at the forum at the India Habitat Centre here.

Yet, not to be left behind in the projections for the games, the OCCG treasurer A. K. Mattoo, promised to raise the funds needed and its Secretary-General Lalit K. Bhanot went a step further to say that his committee would be looking to generate revenue close to Rs 1000 crores.

The projected costs of around Rs 1,900 crores for the games could easily be doubled in the coming days if the Group of Ministers (GoM) that, incidentally, did not meet as scheduled on Monday, gives the go-ahead to OCCG's plans to have seven new stadia. The projected revenue in the original bid document comes to 186 million dollars (Rs. 851 crores), but that was dependent on a sponsorship target of 100 million dollars and a television rights fee of 67 million dollars.

The Commonwealth Games Federation evaluation committee noted in 2003 that these were far too optimistic estimates when compared with past experience of Manchester 2002 (sponsorship 42 million dollars) and the revenue expected for the Melbourne games (sponsorship target 65.7 million dollars) next year. In his keynote address at the conference, the OCCG chairman Suresh Kalmadi said that the country was very excited about the 2010 Games. He saw great opportunities for both countries to carry forward the present co-operation in sports and sought Australia's help in gaining the vote for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Reminder

A gentle reminder from the former Sydney Olympic Organising Committee CEO, Sandy Hollway, who moderated the discussions, that Sydney had gained the IOC vote only after two abortive attempts, helped put things in the right perspective. The Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) CEO, Mark Peters explained the birth of the AIS following his country's dismal performance at the 1976 Montreal Olympics (zero gold, one silver, four bronze), his body's role in the development of sports in Australia, government funding, relationship with national federations, long-term planning and the targets set for the Beijing Olympics.

Mr. Peters explained how the Australian soccer federation was replaced because of constant complaints from several quarters about non-performance and lack of accountability after explaining the reasons to the international body (FIFA). The Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy, said the 2006 Commonwealth Games would be the best and he hoped that Delhi would beat Melbourne's rating.

The Australia-India Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry organised the conference in collaboration with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Australian Government.