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Thursday, Oct 23, 2003

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Afro-Asian Games kicked off

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , Oct. 22

THE weather gods seem to have decided not to play spoilsport at the Afro-Asian Games. Nearly 2,500 athletes from 95 countries are all set to offer a visual treat for millions of viewers across Asia and Africa for 11 days from Wednesday. Even as the organisers gear up for the formal inaugural, Indian footballers beat Rwanda 3-1 in the first match that kicked off the games on Wednesday. The people, players and organisers heaved a sigh of relief when the skies cleared in the afternoon after two days of heavy downpour.

The official schedule for the first Afro-Asian Games runs through October 24 to November 1. Apart from athletics, the first edition of the games will feature eight disciplines of football, boxing, weightlifting, hockey, tennis, swimming and shooting.

The event has given a fillip to the hospitality industry, thanks to the huge inflow of delegates and related traffic. "We've got huge games-related bookings," Mr Sashi Kanth of Fortune Katriya Hotel, a Welcomgroup hotel, told Business Line. The Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) has taken up several measures not only to beautify the ambience but also take the games to the doorsteps of residents of the twin cities.

SHEDDING LIGHT: Tubular lighting depicting various facets of the Afro-Asian Games, which has been installed on the Khairtabad Flyover as the countdown for the Games begins. - P.V. Sivakumar

"We have erected 20 giant LCD systems in the city at Jalagam Vengal Rao Park, Telugu Talli Statue, KBR Parm and NTR Stadium for live telecast of the games between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.," Ms Chitra Ramachandran, the Commissioner of MCH, said.

For the State Tourism Department, the games could prove to be a windfall. "We have got a captive audience in the form of delegates, their associates and media people from abroad. We can showcase our tourism potential to them," said Ms Chandana Khan, Principal Secretary (Tourism and Culture Department).

"We are going to take some journalists from abroad on a tour to some of the important tourist spots around," she added.

Meanwhile, the Transmission Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (APTransco) has allocated Rs 3 crore to ensure "uninterrupted power supply" during the period. Besides deploying a number of generators as standby, the Corporation has formed special teams headed by senior engineers to monitor the situation, Ms Rachel Chatterjee, the Chairman and Managing Director, said.

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