KUWAIT CITY: Money could play a major role in choosing the winner of the 2014 Asian Games bid on Tuesday, especially after Delhi's rival, Incheon of South Korea, Monday offered at least $20 million to the 45 voting countries, besides other incentives.
India, which hosted the inaugural games in 1951 and then 1982, has not offered anything so far, but Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials worked behind the scenes throughout Monday, trying to garner vote and support.
Needless to say, IOA will not only have to match that amount but offer a substantial 'surprise' package for the 45 countries that will vote at the Marriott Hotel on Tuesday, following their bid presentations.
India might well win in the end, but as of Monday evening it seemed a close fight between the two bidders.
"It indeed looks a tough fight as of now. The important time is tonight. A lot will happen tonight; it's an important time for both of us," a senior IOA official said.
The body language of the ever bulging Indian delegation confirmed Monday that Delhi cannot expect to be a runaway winner. They were cautious in reading the situation and did not boast that the games were in Delhi's bag.
"We are confident of winning," said both Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi and Indian Ambassador here M. Ganapathi in unison.
Much like the IOA officials, Ganapathi also worked diligently as did his staff. All of them, however, kept their fingers crossed.
Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury, who is here to push Delhi's case, also exuded confidence and said that India's tourist attraction could also favour Delhi.
"I agree that the people who would come to India to watch the country if we win will not vote tomorrow, but the tourism industry could still play a part," Chowdhury said.
Kalmadi said that with Incheon offering big money, India would do "something" when voting takes place on Tuesday.
"We will have to do something," said a guarded Kalmadi with a mischievous but not-so-confident smile, hinting that IOA would again come up with a surprise offer like it did to win the 2010 Commonwealth Games bid for Delhi.
India defeated Hamilton after it offered $100,000 each to the 71 countries for "preparation of athletes" for the 2010 Games.
Delegations from India and South Korea, which arrived here Saturday morning, were seen vigorously canvassing in the Marriott Hotel lobby. Some local Indians even shouted "Go For New Delhi", the official slogan of the Indian bid.
Among those who have arrived here to boost the Delhi bid are long jumper Anju Bobby George, shooter Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, hockey Olympian Aslam Sher Khan, Haryana Tourism Minister Kiran Chowdhary, socialite Nafisa Ali and, of course, Randhir Singh, who is secretary-general of both OCA and IOA.
Many heads of India's national sports federations are here to seek support. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is expected on Monday evening.