Calcutta: The 300-strong African contingent is taking the inaugural Afro-Asian Games seriously, as was made clear at a press meet in Hyderabad Tuesday.
“We have come here with the best teams in all disciplines and we would not like to lose in any of them. The contingent will be studded with 80 gold-medallists from the recent All-Africa Games in Abuja,’’ said Ivory Coast’s Gen. Lassana Palenfo, chef-de-mission of the country’s contingent and an IOC member.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Suresh Kalmadi, working chairman of the organising committee representing Asia, Palenfo opined that the absence of leading football nations like Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal would not diminish the attraction of the competition. “We have got nations like Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe which are better ranked,” he informed.
Ingrid Haiden, who won four swimming gold medals in the Abuja meet, said: “It is a fast pool and you can expect fast timings.”
A lot of excitement is also expected in the boxing ring. While Africa will field four gold and three silver-medallists from the Abuja Games, top Asian boxers — including medallists from the Sydney Olympics and world championship — will also be seen in action.
Football teams from Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso, the South African hockey and swimming squads, South Korean and Pakistani hockey teams arrived in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
PTI adds from Hyderabad: A thick security blanket will be thrown around the city with special focus on sportspersons and VVIPs during the October 24-November 1 Games.
“We had discussions with intelligence agencies of some countries and have worked out a drill to guard icons of some sports, both national and international,” Sudeep Laktakia, IG (security) said on Tuesday.
“Some of the visiting VVIPs also have received threats for some reason or the other, and we are taking precautionary measures,” he said without naming the countries or athletes.