Skipping torch relay is an opportunity lost: Kalmadi

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New Delhi, Apr 17 (UNI) The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi took potshots at celebrities who pulled out of the Olympic Torch relay here today and said those who skipped the run have missed an opportunity to engrave their name in history.

''Those who pulled out have missed an opportunity. They lost the chance to lay hands on the hallowed torch. It was they who missed out something, we did not,'' he said.

''I thank all the top sportsmen who ran today,'' he added.

Earlier, Cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, shooter Jaspal Rana and sarod player Ayan Ali pulled out of the event citing various reasons.

With worldwide protests over China's stand on Tibet, the torch run too had been a beset by protests and Kalmadi was relieved by the successful Torch relay.

The IOA president asserted that with the success of torch relay, India has sent a strong message worldwide and will have a great chance of hosting the 2020 Olympic Games.

''With this, we sent the message that we are ready to host the 2020 Olympic Games,'' he said.

However, justifying the tight security for the relay, Kalmadi said there was no other way to have handled the responsibility.

''As host of the 2010 Commonwealth Games we had an extra responsibility to ensure that the relay passes without any untoward incident.

''Under these circumstances, it was a grand show,'' he said.

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