New sports minister MS Gill may want to exclude politicians and film stars from Thursday's Olympic torch relay in Delhi, but Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi contests the view, saying citizens from all walks of life can run in the event.
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Reacting to Gill's opposition to inviting politicians and film stars for the torch relay, Kalmadi pointed out that International Olympic Council guidelines rather encourage the participation of citizens from all walks of life in the event.
"Under the IOC guidelines concerning the torch relay, it (torch relay) is for citizens from all walks of life," Kalmadi said on Tuesday.
Gill had frowned upon the invitation of politicians and film stars for the relay, saying they have little right to hog the limelight in the event. He had said only athletes with distinguished careers and budding sportspersons should carry the torch.
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Kalmadi clarified that the film stars were invited by the event's sponsors -- Innova, Coca Cola and Samsung -- and not by the IOA.
"We have not invited a single film star. They were invited by the sponsors," he said, adding that the IOA had invited Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who said he would not be in town on that day.
Former Olympian Milkha Singh, however, has no issue on inviting celebrities if sportspersons are given prominence.
"Preference should be given to athletes. After that if any film star or politician runs in the relay, what objection can we have?" the 'Flying Sikh' said.
What do your feel? Should film stars run in the torch relay?
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