Cricket expected to be retained for Incheon Asiad
Guangzhou: Pressure is building on South Korea to retain cricket and karate in the Asian Games roster when it hosts the event in 2014 in Incheon and the matter would be decided by the end of the current edition running till November 27.
Indian Olympic Association’s secretary general Randhir Singh, who is also the secretary-general of the Olympic Council of Asia, told reporters that OCA president Shaikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has been authorised by the OCA general assembly to talk to the Korean authorities on the issue.
“The general assembly has authorised the OCA president to talk to the South Korean authorities about retaining cricket and karate. He will announce the outcome of these discussions before the end of these Games,” Randhir said.
However, according to sources cricket, which is a passion in South Asia though India did not send a team to the Asiad here and is seen as a big-time attraction for TV viewers as well as fans, would be retained by the Korean organisers.
“The contentious issue is over softball and a few other sports which are here,” said the sources, saying that the next Games will have only 35 disciplines as compared to 42 in the current edition here.
Meanwhile, India would be a strong contender if it bids for the 2019 Games but would have to deal with rivals such as Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong.
Since the OCA was interested in spreading around these Games across various regions, India, if it bids, would emerge as a contender as it last hosted the event way back in 1982 in Delhi.
Since then, the Games have been hosted five times in East Asia (1986 Seoul, 1990 Beijing, 1994 Hiroshima, 2002 Busan, 2010 Guangzhou) while South East Asia (1998 Bangkok) and West Asia (2006 Qatar) have held it once each.
The next Games is also in East Asia, in Incheon, Korea.
It is almost certain that Hong Kong would host the 2023 Games, the sources added.
The 2019 Games hosts would be decided in July 2011 by the OCA at its meeting in Japan and mid-February is the deadline for India and others to send in the bids fulfilling all the requirements.
Randhir had told reporters a few days ago that contrary to what has been depicted, the country’s bid for the 2019 Asian Games was still on and the IOA was in the process of sending a bid document to the OCA before the deadline.
Talking to reporters after attending India’s flag-hoisting ceremony at the Games Village on November 11, Randhir had said that the government had the blue print of the bid submitted to it for the 2014 Games that was ultimately won by Incheon and only the escalation of the cost needed to be pencilled in.
“The 2014 bid details are with the government. It has already been cleared by the cabinet and does not need any more approval. All that is needed is to factor in the escalation of cost from 2014 to 2019 which can be done by the government’s financial authorities better than us,” he said.
The government authorities have asked for the detailed bid documents from the IOA to study them in detail.
Randhir said that he has already secured details about the cost that Guangzhou has incurred in hosting the Asian Games here.
“I would be getting the document from the Guangzhou organizers and would be sending them across to the government. The organizers here are expected to rake in USD 450 million after spending USD 420 million. I am only talking about hosting of the Games and not the other infrastructure development,” he said.
According to Randhir, most of the infrastructure, if India’s bid is successful for the 2019 Games, is already there in Delhi and only two new stadiums needed to be added to the list that were used during the Commonwealth Games.
“We already have a modern airport and the metro is also there which are essential to host the Games. We need to build only two new stadiums,” he said.
“We have nine years to prepare for the Games (if India get to host them),” he added.