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Gulmarg to be made international winter games venue

By Shujaat Bukhari

GULMARG, JAN. 31 . After a gap of six years, Gulmarg played host to the National Winter Games, under a thick blanket of snow, recently. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, Suresh Kalmadi, inaugurating the meet announced that an annual event, Gulmarg Olympic Cup, would become part of the circuit.

Mr. Kalmadi said Gulmarg was bound to attract international participation. "It will be possible to hold the South Asian and Commonwealth Games here in a couple of years."

Money was not a constraint and the IOA would hire experts from Switzerland for developing Gulmarg to make it "an international destination for the winter games," he said.

The Director General of Tourism, Saleem Beig, said the ice-skating ring could hold night games. The State, known for summer tourism, would soon become a destination in winter too.

The State Tourism Minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir, said steps would be taken to make Jammu and Kashmir attract tourists the year round.

The president of the Winter Games Federation of India, Colonel N. Kumar, said two athletes, one of them from Kashmir, would be sent to Iran next month for the Cross Country Ski meet and four or five for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

This year, the Asian Cross Country Ski meet would be held at Manali in Himachal Pradesh. A similar meet would be held in Gulmarg, he added.

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