Pullouts did not affect Olympics torch relay: Kalmadi

April 18th, 2008 - 12:14 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) The sportspersons and celebrities who pulled out from the Olympics torch relay here Thursday missed out being part of a historic moment and their move did not affect the event, India Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi said. Kalmadi was a relieved man after the relay passed off successfully. “Those who pulled out missed out being part of a great moment. They lost the opportunity to lay hands on the hallowed torch,” he said.

“I thank all the top sportspersons who ran today,” he said.

Football captain Bhaichung Bhutia was the first to pull out of the relay, citing his concern for the Tibetan movement. Former top police officer Kiran Bedi was the next to withdraw and said she did not want to run amid stifling security measures.

Cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar could not find time out of their engagements while shooter Jaspal Rana and sarod player Ayan Ali pulled out at the last minute citing personal reasons.

A host of leading sportspersons were not invited for the run but Kalmadi promised all those who could not be accommodated Thursday would be given a chance during the Commonwealth Games.

“There were many who wanted to be part of the relay but we could not take in everybody. We will accommodate all those sportsperson in the torch relay of the Commonwealth Games 2010.”

Sports Minister M.S. Gill, who was also present on the occasion, said the torch symbolises “unity and brotherhood” and India has welcomed it with warm heart.

He also hoped India would bring a handful of medals in the Beijing Olympics.

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