By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
July 31 - A bid from New Delhi for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics has moved a step closer, it has been claimed in India, after the Government refused to endorse a proposal from the city to host the 2019 Asian Games.
The controversial Asian Games bid, proposed by Suresh Kalmadi, the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), had caused anger in among senior officials because they were only informed of it after the deadline set by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had passed on June 30.
Relations between Kalmadi and the Government are at an all-time low because of a row over the length of time Indian sports officials can serve and a proposal by the Ministry of Sport to limit their tenure, a plan that the IOA is fiercely resisting.
The Indian Government hope to use this year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi to launch a bid for the 2020 Olympics despite the build-up being overshadowed by delays in preparing the venues, which they believe has undermined Kalmadi's position.
They believe that it if they are to bid then they need to concentrate on the Olympics, which is due to be awarded by the International Olympic Committee at its Session in Buenos Aires in 2013.
India is the most populous country in the world never to have hosted the Olympics.
"The controversy around the Commonwealth Games has sullied the IOA’s image," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Sport.
"We need a more dynamic, fresh face to lead our [Olympic] bid."
The Government's enthusiasm for a potential bid for the 2020 Olympics has also been encouraged by the visit earlier this week of a senior delegation to India, led by Prime Minister David Cameron and which also included Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, double 2004 Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave, Britain's most successful ever Olympian, who won five gold medals during his career.
"After the Commonwealth Games if India feel they have the infrastructure, then go for the Olympics," said Sir Steve.
"Having Olympics in India would be absolutely amazing.
"The enthusiasm would be much higher than the Commonwealth Games.
"India should take forward the Games legacy and bid for Olympics.
"The Commonwealth Games village is absolutely amazing.
"It's the best engineering I have ever seen.
"Though some work is still left but the organisers have come out with a great infrastructure."
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June 2010: Delhi bid for 2019 Asian Games leaves 2020 Olympics in doubt
March 2010: Delhi Commonwealth Games is stepping stone for Olympics claims Kalmadi
January 2010: Kalmadi refuses to rule out New Delhi bid for 2020 Olympics
November 2009: India should not bid for Olympics says Sports Minister