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'We will organise the best Games ever'

April 19, 2010 18:16 IST

Tarlochan Singh, Indian Member of Parliament and chairman of the media committee of India's Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, was in Toronto to receive the Queen's Baton.

He was accompanied by Toronto Mayor David Miller when the Baton arrived at the Metro Hall square.

"The Baton has covered 48 territories and countries," said Singh. "From here, it will go to Australia, New Zealand and (then) to Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and will finally reach Delhi on June 25. Then, for 100 days, the torch relay will cover all Indian states before going back to New Delhi for the opening ceremony."

"After 1982 (the Asian Games), it will be the first such event in India, so you can imagine how keen the Indian people are to see the Games. We will organize the best Games ever."

Singh said the opening ceremony will be a two-hour extravaganza, showcasing India's culture and history. It will leave the expected 80,000 strong crowd at the opening ceremony spellbound, he claimed.

India will spend Rs 3.5 billion ($78.5 million) on the opening and closing ceremonies. "We are getting money from the government," said Singh. "But every paisa that comes to us is a loan from the Indian governmentÂ… (and) will be returned as we are earning money from sponsorships, advertising, sale of broadcasting rights and tickets."

Making the process smoother for athletes and the media, the Indian government has decided that once an athlete, journalist or support staff secures the necessary accreditation, he/she will be allowed to enter India without a visa, or passport.

"Once they take their accreditation from the Canadian organizing committee, they will have no problem," said Singh.

This is the first time in the history of the Games that a government has taken such a decision.

Singh credited former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpee for bringing the Games to India. This is the second time the Commonwealth Games are taking place in Asia. The first Asian city to hold the Games was Kuala Lumpur.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sent personal invites to 71 heads of states and we are hoping many of them will come," Singh said.

Ajit Jain in Toronto