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Kalmadi still hopeful about Sachin's participation in Olympic torch relay

New Delhi, Apr 16 : Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Suresh Kalmadi on Wednesday expressed hope that cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar would participate in the Olympic torch relay.

"Lots of people are joining in. He will be coming on 17th morning in a flight, we will wait for him," Kalmadi told reporters in New Delhi.

The IOA Chief expressed the hope, even as there were reports that Sachin had pulled out of Thursday's Olympic torch relay for personal reasons.

Sachin's participation is crucial, as he would become the most famous international sports star after Diego Maradona to pull out of the event.

It would be pertinent to mention here that Indian soccer captain Bhaichung Bhutia had already withdrawn from the relay in protest against China's response to unrest in Tibet. Country's first woman police officer Kiran Bedi too has announced her withdrawal from the event citing suffocating security.

At least 15,000 security personnel have been deployed along the 1.8-mile route along Rajpath to India Gate. India has also assured Beijing that the security for the torch relay would be foolproof, although it has not banned Tibetan protests.

"Olympics games is not specific to any particular country and to say that precautions for the Olympic torch are taken due to some pressure from any particular country is wrong. All sportspersons of the world feel for the Olympics and we are protecting the torch to protect the honour of the Olympics," said Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Minister of State for Home.

Story first published: Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 22:04 [IST]
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