By our Sports Reporter
GUWAHATI, Oct 25: Rajeev Mehta, the Secretary General of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), today admitted that the selection of Guwahati as one of the venues for the SAF Games is a right decision as the city has all modern facilities for such events.
Mehta, who was in the city to announce the date of SAF Games, took a few questions from The Sentinel and a couple of other local media houses just after his media conference at CM's Conference Hall, Dispur. Here is an excerpt.
After the Commonwealth Games, SAF Games is the first major multi-discipline event which India is going to host. Is it a fresh challenge for the IOA?
Rajeev Mehta (RM): Actually it is our responsibility to organize various tiol and intertiol events on a regular basis to promote senior and budding sportspersons of the country. After the Commonwealth Games various steps have been taken so that the IOA can maintain a good image. Now we don't handle fincial matters related to this type of events. I assure you that here too the IOA, in collaboration with the Assam Olympic Association, will organize the SAF Games in the best possible way without giving any chance for complaints.
Any special reasons to select two capital cities of Northeast as the venues of the event?
RM: While Guwahati has a very good and modern sports infrastructure, Shillong is now coming up in this area. I feel these infrastructures are the hidden treasure in Indian sports, and we want to show the world that we have two very beautiful places in this region which are equally capable of hosting big intertiol meets.
What will be the number of participating countries and athletes in the forthcoming Games?
RM: Eight countries will take part in the next edition of the SAF Games, and the number of participants will be around 4,000.
That means Pakistan too is going to take part in this Games!
RM: Yes. We are in regular touch with all eight countries and till date all have agreed to participate in the meet.
A very high-level security will be required at the time of SAF Games. Have you discussed the matter with the Assam government?
RM: I have already discussed the matter with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, and I was assured that all possible steps will be taken to make the security arrangement foolproof. We are in constant touch with Union Home Minister Rajth Singh and the PMO on this issue. We have received full cooperation from them too.
Can we expect a few more big events in days ahead?
RM: Why not? Earlier I have mentioned that Guwahati has very good sports infrastructure. In fact, we are planning to bring a few more intertiol events in this city so that we can use these infrastructure so as to boost sports in this region.