IOC chief backs Delhi


NEW DELHI, October 3 – IOC chief Jacques Rogge insisted Sunday that India could make a serious bid for the Olympics despite the shambolic run-up to the New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

The International Olympic Committee president said the foundation stones had now been laid, and that the Commonwealth event would ultimately make the country proud.

"There is a difference between Olympics and Commonwealth Games. The Olympics is bigger and more complicated," India’s Zeenews quoted Rogge as saying.

"But I think India has set a good foundation stone for the Olympics bid and a successful Commonwealth Games can help India mount a serious bid for the Olympics."

India is considering a bid for the 2020 Olympics, with the IOC General Assembly due to vote on the host city in 2013.

The run-up to the Commonwealth Games, which open Sunday, has been marred by problems, despite the country having seven years to prepare.

Many of the sports venues have only been completed in recent weeks, while the athletes’ village was slammed for being "filthy" when the first competitors arrived.

Rogge, who is in India to attend the opening ceremony, said it was a learning curve.

"I think the Games will make India proud. It is something we can show to the world that we can organize an event of such big stature," he said.

"I think everything will be fine. The things are going well and we have very experienced people handling it."

In August, Australian Olympic chief John Coates, a member of the IOC executive board, said India’s hopes of one day hosting the Olympic Games would suffer unless it overcame its Commonwealth organisational problems.

Rogge added that India, as the world’s second most populous country, needed to start winning more medals at major events and urged the country’s youth to play more sport.

"My message to India is practice sport," he said.

"Sport is education, sport is health and sport is joy. More youth in the country must practice sports."