Guwahati, Dec. 13: Assam today staved off the challenge from Goa and Jharkhand to wrest the rights to host the 33rd National Games in 2005.
Assam secured 24 more votes than its nearest rival Goa at the Indian Olympic Association’s executive body meeting in Hyderabad this afternoon. Strong contender Haryana pulled out of the bid at the last moment.
Director of sports N.N. Borkataky said Assam, the second northeastern state after Manipur to claim the rights to host the Games since 1999, has secured more than 50 per cent of the votes.
The favourable verdict was the result of concerted lobbying by Assam Olympic Association (AOA) secretary Mukut Medhi, who was backed to the hilt by the association’s president and chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
Medhi, sports minister and AOA vice-president Robin Bordoloi and Kamrup deputy commissioner and Assam Rowing Association president A.K. Absar Hazarika represented the state at the meeting.
“It is a big day for Assam. Our efforts have yielded results. I am grateful to those who have helped us secure the Games, including K.P.S. Gill, K.P. Singh Deo, Harish Sharma, Manoj Jalan, Alok Ghosh and the northeastern states for their support,” Medhi, who represented the Basketball Federation of India, told The Telegraph from Hyderabad. He will return from the Andha Pradesh capital on December 23 with the IOA flag.
Medhi said the AOA delegation, which also included sports commissioner Mirinal Baruah and SAI director-in-charge Subhas Basumatary, distributed Assamese gamochas and tea packets to the members of the IOA as a“mark of gratitude”. He said, “We will meet Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu tomorrow and seek his guidance”.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who could not make it to Hyderabad, expressed his gratitude to the IOA and hoped the Centre would extend all possible help to host the Games. “We are ready for the show as we have done our homework months in advance,” he said.
As part of the preliminary process, the AOA had last year hosted a dinner for IOA members in New Delhi, making a powerpoint presentation while submitting Assam’s bid. The AOA had even managed to rope in IOA president Suresh Kalmadi for the Olympic Day run in the Assam capital to drive home its readiness to host the Games.
The Games would bring in more than Rs 200 crore in building and upgrading existing infrastructure in Guwahati. Dibrugarh will host the equestrian events, while hockey matches will be played in Nagaon.
The sports fraternity here was jubilant on hearing the news.