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Indian Olympic Association President Narayana Ramachandran had appeared reluctant to bid for the Asian Games but promised he would abide by whatever the majority decision was ©Getty Images
New Delhi to bid for 2019 Asian Games after Indian Olympic Association officially confirm interest

21 Jun 2014
New Delhi has been officially put forward as a candidate to replace Hanoi as host city of the 2019 Asian Games after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) decided to back the bid. The decision followed a period of confusion at the IOA after its President Narayana Ramachandran contradicted a claim by secretary general Rajeev Mehta that India would definitely bid. But now Mehta has written to Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), officially confirming they are interested in taking over from Hanoi after the Vietmanese capital dropped out in April because of financial pressures.

"I have the pleasure to inform you that the Indian Olympic Association would officially like to submit its bid for hosting 18th Asian Games in the city of Delhi, India, as per the Constitution of the Olympic Council of Asia," Mehta wrote in the letter.

"The members of the IOA have approved the bid for the hosting of 2019 Asian Games.

"We are in dialogue with Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India for obtaining the necessary approvals.

"We request the bid documents may be sent to us, so that IOA can submit its bid for hosting the 18th Asian Games."

Mehta revealed that the IOA will officially contact the Government for support to host the Asian Games for a third time, having previously staged in 1951 and 1982, after they have received the documents from the OCA.

"We will approach the Sports Ministry after the OCA sends us back the bid documents and inform us about the requirements for presenting the bid," Mehta said.

Mehta claimed that Ramachandran had decided to back the bid after a poll conducted among India's sports federations showed overwhelming support for the idea despite the corruption allegations which overshadowed Delhi's hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

"I had written to all the Presidents and general secretaries of all the National Sports Federations (NSFs) and State Olympic Associations to express in writing their views on whether India should bid for the Asian Games," said Mehta.

"More than 85 per cent of the NSFs and state Olympic associations replied in the affirmative.

"My President has authorised me to proceed with the bidding process and send the official communication to the OCA to express India's intention to host the Games.

"He has informed me that he will go with what the General House of the IOA decides."

Mehta denied that there was friction between him and Ramachandran over whether to bid or not.

"I have no personal issues with my President and I have a good working relation with him," he said.

"In any organisation, there may be difference of opinion and views on issues.

"That I think is good in a way.

"We all are for the good of Indian sports.

"We have taken oath to work for the good of Indian sports."

The deadline for the submission of official bid documents to the OCA is July 1.

Indonesia is tipped as favourites but Kaohsiung City in Taiwan and Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur reportedly remain interested.

The Chinese city Nanjing, due to host this year's Summer Youth Olympic Games, has also floated the idea of putting itself forward.

The OCA is due to choose a new host city on September 20 during the next edition of the Asian Games in Incheon.

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