Delhi can host Olympics: Sheila Dikshit

New Delhi: Delhi can host the Olympics -- the greatest international sporting event, says Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, deriving confidence from hosting of the Commonwealth Games and seeking to put behind the controversies surrounding it.

Notwithstanding cynicism associated with the build-up to the Commonwealth Games, Dikshit pointed out that Delhi has already developed world class stadia and other infrastructure and the city is now "confident" of hosting Olympics.

"Yes, I think so. Yes, we can. We are confident (of hosting Olympics)" she told reporters in an interview, when asked whether the city would be able to host the biggest sporting event.

Her assertion assumes significance as questions had been raised by some quarters whether India has the capacity and capability to host a mega sporting event like the Commonwealth Games in which 71 countries are participating.

However, Dikshit made it clear that the decision to host the Olympics rests with International Olympic Committee and Government of India.

"That`s not a decision for me to take. We naturally feel more confident but the decision will have to be taken by the Olympic committee...Then Government of India has to say (take the decision)," she said.

The Indian Olympic Association and the Sports Ministry have been at loggerheads on bidding for the 2020 Olympics.

Despite the controversy-marred build-up to the Games, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge last week had said India has set a "good foundation stone" for an Olympic bid in future.

Explaining her confidence about the city`s capability to host the Olympics, the 73-year-old Chief Minister said Delhi now has 15 top class stadia which were of international standard, besides other world class infrastructure.

"Look at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and any other stadium. They all are absolutely world class. Nobody is complaining about the venues. No player is complaining. Everything was ready before start of the Games," she said, terming criticism in the run-up to the event as "premature".

Dikshit said the Tyagraj stadium, venue for netball events, built by the city government is one of the best stadia in the world.

"We built the stadium from scratch. It is now one of the best stadia in the world," she said.

Spread over an area of 16,000 square metres, the Thyagaraj Stadium has been built with the latest green building technologies and eco-friendly material. The stadium is India`s first eco-friendly sports complex.

Asked about the cynicism and delays in some of the projects, Dikshit said the criticism was "premature" and media went a "little overboard" in criticising the preparations.

"Everything is ready before the Games. If you had made it six months earlier or 10 months earlier, they were not going to be used anyway...Now we got maximum number of athletes among all the Games," she said.

She acknowledged that she had gone through "anxious moments" when there was widespread criticism and questions were raised over the preparedness as India`s image was at stake but asserted that she never lost hope.

Dikshit, who is the Chief Minister for the third consecutive time, equated preparation for the Commonwealth Games to winning elections.


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