- The sports ministry is about to undertake an exercise to evaluate the implications of hosting the 35th Olympics
- If the ambitious move takes shape, NCR would be the automatic choice as the venue.
- Globally, the IOC is faced with a crisis as not many cities are keen on hosting the event owing to the costs involved.
BENGALURU: Is India keen on hosting the 2032 Olympic Games? The country hasn’t even taken the first step yet but indications are that an effort is underway to consider bringing the sports extravaganza to the country.
If the ambitious move takes concrete shape and passes muster with the political leadership, the National Capital Region would be the automatic choice as the venue.
The sports ministry is about to undertake an exercise to evaluate the implications of hosting the 35th Olympics as well as its impact on various sectors associated with the event. Once it is convinced of the feasibility of hosting the Games and its potential upshots, it may submit a non-paper or a concept note to the government for further discussions.
Indian Olympic Association president N Ramachandran had told reporters last month that IOA was seeking permission from the government to bid for the 2032 Olympics and 2030 Asian Games. The sports ministry’s move suggests that it is not averse to the idea per se, but will like to tread cautiously in view of the costs involved and evidence that the Games have often not brought commensurate benefits to host nations.
While bagging the Games is an ambitious objective, which has eluded countries far more resourceful, better-prepared and boasting a rich sports culture, India has time on its side.
The International Olympic Committee will announce the 2032 hosts only in 2025 while normally, the bidding and candidature process begins nine years before the event. That gives the government a few more years to plan.
The current scenario is a far cry from the situation two years ago when the country dropped its plan to declare an interest in the 2024 Games during the visit of IOC president Thomas Bach who had specially been invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the purpose.
Globally, the IOC is faced with a crisis as not many cities are keen on hosting the event owing to the costs involved. The race to the 2024 Games saw Hamburg, Rome and Budapest opt out, leaving Paris and Los Angeles as the only contestants. With Paris emerging as a ‘favourite’ for 2024, the IOC has now decided to break with tradition not to let a city host the Games twice and elect Los Angeles, which held the 1984 Games, as the 2028 host city later this year. This strengthens India’s case further as it gears up for the big event in 15 years’ time.
The sports ministry is not swayed by the argument that unlike an overwhelming majority of hosts so far, India has not been a sports powerhouse. Arguing that sport forms just a small part of the set of calculations which go into bidding for the Olympics, a source told TOI: “No country hosts Olympics merely as a sporting event. When Tokyo hosted it in 1964, it was repositioning itself and seeking acceptance after the World Wars. London too had several underlying objectives when it hosted it in 1948. Does India have a USP to project, is something we need to ascertain before taking the next step.”
Currently, the focus is on the pros and cons of hosting the event. “We are keen on understanding where the country stands before we decide upon the future course of action. All things that go into hosting the Games will be discussed as we pose ourselves the question whether it is desirable and practical and whether we ought to consider bidding for Olympics at any point,” the source told TOI.
“Besides the implications and requirements such as resource mobilisation, sports infrastructure to be built, scope of private-public partnership and athletes’ development programme as we aim for the top 10 in the medals tally, we also need to assess the uniqueness India can bring to the Olympics considering that we are the largest in terms of youth population.”
THE GAMES: PROS & CONS
When Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964 it was repositioning itself after the World Wars. London too had its underlying objectives when it hosted it in 1948. India too, would like to highlight its culture as part of its USP and the progress that it has registered as a growing soft power. NCR is being seen as the best choice for the Olympics if India chooses to bid for it.
Montreal: Overwhelming construction costs saw 1976 Montreal Games suffer a $922 million (CAD) deficit, forcing the implementation of a special tobacco tax to fund the loss. The debt was paid off 30 years later in 2006.
Athens: The cost of the 2004 Athens Games has been cited as a contributor to the Greek government-debt crisis. Some of the venues lie vacant and rotting, while others are in use.
THE COSTLIEST GAMES EVER:
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi was originally budgeted at $12b, but several cost overruns saw the budget surge to $51bn, making it the costliest Games in history.
LYING IN RUINS:
Rio, which spent big to host the 2016 Games, is now struggling to deal with its abandoned venues amidst heavy debts. The iconic Maracana stadium is in a state of neglect, riddled with issues of thefts and vandalism. The aquatics stadium, which was to be dismantled and turned into two schools, remains abandoned.
SUSTAINABILITY IN SPORT
Tokyo: Picked to host the 2020 Olympics, the Japanese capital is planning to retrofit three major venues originally built for the 1964 Summer Games
Beijing: In preparation to host the 2022 Winter Games, it will adapt six venues that hosted the 2008 Olympics to cut costs. Apart from man-made snow, the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium will be back in use for the opening and closing ceremonies while the Water Cube will be rebranded as the Ice Cube.
London: The Olympic Stadium is now home to EPL team West Ham United.
Source: Times Of India