Olympics is broad enough for cricket: Dravid

Published: Thursday, June 10, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid on Thursday sought to justify the inclusion of cricketers in the Olympic torch relay despite the game not being an Olympic sport and said cricket should not be blamed for its huge popularity.

"The Olympic movement is not just about sports. Its goals are broader and involve people from various walks of life," said the Indian vice-captain, who is in the capital city as a part of the Olympic torch bearers' team.

"If cricket is the number one game in India, it is not the fault of cricket or the cricketers. It is for other sports to ensure that they are similarly popular, TV friendly and able to catch the imagination of the kids.

"I have a lot of respect for other sports, have friends in other sports. So I know how much hard work goes into their achievement and excellence. But I don't think anybody should blame cricket for its popularity."

Dravid's comments come amidst raging controversy over leaving out several legendary sportspersons including P T Usha for the Olympic torch relay.

For the first time ever, the Olympic flame is being carried through the five continents before it is taken to Athens, the venue of this year's edition, in August.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and its sponsors have comeunder flak for giving preference to glamour over substance.

Some have also questioned the inclusion of cricketers and said the torch relay should be restricted to only athletes from Olympic sports.

The controversy notwithstanding, Dravid said it would be a "phenomenal" experience to carry the flame.

"It is a great feeling. We all have watched the torch relays right from the time when we were kids. We all know about the history behind it. It is going to be a phenomenal experience to take part in the relay."

He also gave his take on hockey star Dhanraj Pillay's comment some time ago that Sachin Tendulkar, for all his super star status, could never have the honour of having taken part in an Olympics.

"Cricket has never been part of the Olympics. So when we started playing, we knew that we are never going to take part in Olympics.

"So there is no question of any disappointment for us cricketers. I would feel extremely happy if I could take part in the Games but I want to be realistic."

Besides Dravid, Anil Kumble and Irfan Pathan would also take part in the relay. Legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev will also be among the 105 who will carry the Olympic flame on its 33.2 km journey in the capital.

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