Montego Bay (Jamaica): India’s last minute offer of $7.2 million for athlete training tilted the scale in its favour as New Delhi got overwhelming support from member countries to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
India earned the right to host the Games by 46 votes to 22, secured by Canadian city of Hamilton, in a secret ballot during the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) meeting in this Caribbean island-nation on Thursday night.
“I am happy to announce that the host of the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be Delhi in India,” CGF president Mike Fennel announced soon after the voting, much to the relief of a 50-member Indian delegation here which had put in a lot of hard work in the past few days to win the bid. It was third time lucky for India, the largest Commonwealth country and home to 50 per cent of the Commonwealth population, since earlier they had twice bid unsuccessfully for the games.
It will become only the second Asian nation, after Malaysia (1998), and the third developing country, after Jamaica (1966) to host the Games. Canada have already staged the event four times.
Thursday night’s meeting saw 68 out of 72 members exercising their voting right while two countries — south pacific nations Nauru and Vanuatu — remained absent. The two members who did not cast their votes were not known immediately.
India’s offer of $7.2 million — $100,000 to the Olympic committees of each of the Commonwealth countries — bettered Canada’s promise of $3.8 million even as the latter cried foul.
The Indian delegation comprising Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, secretary Randhir Singh, Union sports minister Vikram Verma. Legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, ace shooter Anjali Bhagwat and former world billiards champion Michael Ferreira addressed the members before the voting started, while Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee delivered a video message.
The sentimental note expressed in their presentations, that India had not hosted the Games in 50 years while Canada had done so four times, also helped India’s cause.
Vajpayee said in his message: “My government has taken the decision to fully underwrite the cost of the Games. India is one of the fast growing economies of the world. We are the leaders in information technology. The Games will offer new market opportunities not only for India but for all the Commonwealth nations”.
Asked whether India was planning to include cricket in the Games, Kalmadi replied the sport was not part of the 15 events agreed to, but added that addition of cricket would enable India to double the grant already announced. He said India would be “flexible” about the dates of the 2010 games. “They will be decided in consultation with the CGF and all the international federations.”
Gavaskar, an immensely popular figure in the Caribbean, who in his trademark style highlighted the country’s potential to take the Games to new heights.
Gavaskar thanked the Pakistani delegation for supporting the Indian bid. “Salaam and thank you, Pakistani delegation, thank you for your gesture,” Gavaskar said. It was a big disappointment for Canada since they had hoped to return the Games to its birthplace for the 80th anniversary. (Agencies)