Melbourne to host 'Olympics of religion'

Sydney, Australia - Melbourne has won the right to host the "Olympic Games of religion" in 2009.

Melbourne edged out Singapore and New Delhi for the right to host the world's largest multi-faith religious event.

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) is expected to attract 10,000 visitors to Melbourne and inject more than $75 million into the Victorian economy, the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau said in a statement.

First held in Chicago in 1893, the CPWR brings together many spiritual leaders and their followers and is held every five years. In the past it has attracted religious leaders including the Dalai Lama.

It will run for eight days in December 2009.

The head of Melbourne's winning bid committee, RMIT University Professor Des Cahill, said in the statement that it was like winning the "Olympic Games of religion and spirituality".

"It is a credit to its multicultural and interfaith climate that the world's religious leaders and their faith communities have chosen Melbourne for such an important event," Professor Cahill said.

Dirk Ficca, executive director of the CPWR, said there was a "clear need" for spirituality in today's world of religious-inspired violence and terrorism.