India toss hat into Olympic 2048 ‘ring’



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Delhi wants to host Olympics 2048 Image: The Hindu

After two recent futile bids, India has tossed its hat into the ring again to host one of the most spectacular sporting events on the planet – the Olympics. On this occasion, it’s a good 27 years before the proposed edition and at least 14 years before the process to select the hosts gets underway.

Recently, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia pledged to launch a bid for the 2048 Games to mark 100 years of India’s independence from British rule.

‘The Indian Express’ reported that speaking while presenting the Delhi Budget, Sisodia, who holds the Finance portfolio, stated, “Next 32nd Olympic Games are to be held in Tokyo (Japan). The next three Olympic Games host cities have also been decided. Our Government aims to bring the sports facilities and the atmosphere towards sports competitions to such a level through the new Sports University so that we can apply to host the 39th Olympic sports competitions for 2048.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too threw his weight behind the Olympic dream – “A vision has been provided in the Budget that 2048 Olympic Games should be held in Delhi. We will take up whatever infrastructure and other necessities that are needed to be created for it.”

Countries making Olympics the crux of their long-term development vision is nothing new. China staged the Beijing Games in 2008 only after it began girding up loins for the same through its ‘Olympic Strategy’ formulated in 1985.
 

Long-drawn bidding process

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is presently in the process of finalizing the venue for the 2032 chapter, hasn’t yet invited bids for the 2048 spectacle. After it picks up the host for 2032, the IOC will first select venues for the 2036, 2040 and 2044 Games before it begins the search for the City to conduct the sporting extraordinaire in 2048.

‘The Indian Express’ further reported that while Brisbane (Australia) seems set to host the 2032 edition, IOC Vice-President John Coates, has said the other candidate cities have already been “parked for future Games”.

This is in continuation of the IOC’s new process to select host cities. Earlier, the aspiring cities were put in direct competition with each other. Based on their presentations, the IOC Executive Board would cast a vote and the one that received the most votes would land the Games. But that process was considered expensive and faced accusations of being biased.

So now, the modus operandi is such that an IOC committee gets into discussions with the cities interested to stage the Games. The panel makes a careful examination of the bids and engages with the Governments and other stakeholders of the interested countries. Based on their observations, the committee recommends a potential host, on which the Executive Board then has to take a call. The IOC has also done away with the strict deadlines for the process.

Hungary, Qatar, Indonesia, and Germany are some of the other countries in contention for the 2032 Olympics, and could get a look-in for the subsequent editions.
 

Previous bids

In the last decade, India has considered hosting the sporting extravaganza twice. The country first made a strong pitch for the 2024 Olympics, with Delhi and Ahmedabad (City in Gujarat) as possible candidates. But that bid ended with a whimper even before any serious consideration was given to it.

When IOC President Thomas Bach visited New Delhi in 2015, he met the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and few sports administrators.

In a presser before he left, Bach had said back then that India was not yet ready to host the Games, which attract close to 10,000 athletes from more than 200 nations and thousands more for the Paralympics – “Frankly, we were a little bit surprised about this speculation (of a potential Indian bid). Because of different reasons, we think it will be a little too quick for India to have a successful Olympics in 2024.”
 

Fadnavis’ pitch

Kejriwal isn’t the first Chief Minister to push his State’s (New Delhi) case for an Olympics. In 2018, the then Maharashtra (State in India) Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made a strong case for Mumbai as a potential host for the 2032 Games. Fadnavis made the announcement during Bach’s visit to India in 2018. That bid, the IOC had said, was backed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra and IOC member Nita Ambani. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, too, supported the idea, saying the Government was “exploring the possibilities”.

Eventually, the IOC announced last month that it had entered into a discussion with Brisbane to host the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics, translating into the fact that India’s hopes were dashed once again.
 

Half-baked

India did not do its homework properly in its earlier two attempts. But, this time the country has enough time on its hands to make a strong pitch to play host to the 2048 Games.

Stated Sisodia, “This may seem far away, but we have to bid for it 10 years before 2048. Before that, it will take 15 years to build adequate infrastructure, to create an atmosphere where sports flourishes and to bring our players to a level where they bring medals in the sports competitions leading to Olympics 2048.”

However, the State Government cannot take the sole decision. A winning bid requires consent and guarantees from the Central and State Governments at that time, along with the IOA.

Reacting to Kejriwal’s announcement, Batra stated, “We welcome their decision. The process of selecting the host for the 2048 Olympics is a long time away and though I will not be around for the negotiation of the bid as I would have reached my retirement age, I hope by then they will improve the existing sporting infrastructure of Delhi and the region will start producing athletes.”
 

Batra contention

‘The Times of India’ reported that while welcoming Kejriwal’s announcement, Batra said that the Delhi CM should have discussed the matter with IOA first – “It’s a welcome step if they’re thinking of it but at the same time, Arvind Kejriwal should have been in discussion with IOA first. They can send an expression of interest but bidding is a very different process. I will say it’s a welcome move but Delhi alone can’t stage the Olympics. Multiple cities have to be involved, there are many things involved behind any competition.”

‘The Times of India’ quoted Batra as stating, “In my point of view, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Sports Complex in Motera (Ahmedabad) is the best option for opening and closing ceremony of Olympics as of now.”

A confident Batra said that India can definitely host the Olympics before 2048.

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