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Pune Games: Kalmadi chants marketing mantra

There are very few politicians who can wear the flamboyance of Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi. He admits that India has no hopes of medals at Beijing. But he is betting big on the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Aug 08, 2008, 02.26 AM IST|Original: Aug 08, 2008, 02.26 AM IST
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There are very few politicians who can wear the flamboyance of Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi. He admits that India has no hopes of medals at Beijing. But he is betting big on the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and the 2008 Pune Youth Games. Mr Kalmadi talks to ET about India���s medal hopes and the country���s preparedness to hold such mega events.

How significant are these Games for you?

A successful Commonweath Youth Games in Pune will ensure successful Games in Delhi. This will help us in successfully bidding for 2020 Olympics. We want to promote Olympics sports in this time of cricket.

Is India ready to host the Olympics?

India will have an advantage over other countries because of infrastructural development which will be done prior to the Commonwealth Games.

Our medal tally at international level has been dismal. How do you justify the huge expenditure on international events over training our athletes?

The government has given us Rs 700 crore for training. Till now, in the budget of Rs 400 crore, a mere Rs 40 crore was allocated for training. But now, due to Commonwealth Games, we have been allocated much more than the budget. We can now give our teams the required training which will help us in getting medals.

How much are we spending on these events?

Pune has got Rs 1,500 crore under JNNURM scheme for infrastructure development, including roads, bridges and slum redevelopment. The Balewadi sports complex has been given Rs 375 crore by the Centre and the state. I don���t know how much is being allotted for the Delhi Games.

How will you meet the expenses for the Delhi Games?

Our revenue will come from the marketing agency SMAN, which had also handled the marketing for Melbourne and Manchester Commonwealth Games. Sports marketing agency Fast Track will handle the marketing of broadcasting rights for the Delhi Games.

For the Melbourne Games, Australia���s Channel 9 paid $16 million for the broadcasting rights. We have negotiated the deal with the same channel for $30 million. We have received more from broadcasters in South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and from BBC.

What is the talent that IOA has been hunting for?

Now, with the availability of funds, IOA will be able to find and train the talent for future games and win a bagful of medals. It is now the responsibility of the industry to come forward and help these games.

Politicians have headed sports associations for years, it has hardly helped.

Politicians are heads because no one else is willing to come forward. The best head would be a politician, industrialist or a bureaucrat. The secretary general should be a technocrat and the chairman of the selection committee should be an international player.

(This is the concluding piece of a three-part series on Commonwealth Games in Pune)
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