Even before it makes a formal case to host the 2019 Asian Games, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is facing a race against time just to meet the deadline for submitting an official bid for the event.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has set July 1 as the deadline for interested countries to make a bid to host the 2019 Asiad. But the IOA faces a possible delay in procuring necessary permissions from the government, considering that the new cabinet will most probably take charge only next month.
Vietnam, which was elected the host in 2012, pulled out last month citing financial burden. The OCA subsequently invited bids from interested countries and will reveal the new venue during the Incheon Asian Games this September.
India joined the race along with Indonesia, Qatar and Malaysia-Singapore (who have made a joint bid), with IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta expressing the desire to bring the event to New Delhi earlier this week. The IOA contended that most of the infrastructure which was built for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is already in place and only two new indoor stadiums may be required for the Asian Games.
However, the government is yet to be informed about the IOA’s plans. Sports Secretary Ajit Sharan said they haven’t been approached, officially or unofficially, by the IOA. “We cannot comment on the issue till the time the new government comes to power. As of now, we have not given it a thought,” said Sharan.
Much will depend on the new sports minister, who will have his hands full the moment he takes charge. The new minister is likely to have less than a month to get the cabinet’s nod before the IOA submits its bid to the OCA. The IOA will need clearances from the finance ministry, home ministry, planning commission and the Delhi government before presenting the bid to the cabinet, which will take the final decision.
India in race for 2019 Asian Games, but many hurdles remain
“We will definitely be short on time to meet the July 1 deadline. The basic process is not lengthy but there’s a lot of spadework to be done, which takes a lot of time,” said a ministry official. “The main area that will need attention is the financing part. Hosting such Games is a huge financial commitment for the state as well as the central government, so it will require a lot of deliberation. It takes time to build consensus within the government.”
The CWG controversy and the IOA’s conduct since then has made the government cautious with regard to hosting such Games. However, the IOA sensed an opportunity following Hanoi’s last-minute withdrawal.
The IOA general body is likely to give the green signal to the proposal when it meets next month. “We will take a final decision at the IOA general body meeting which will probably be held next month. We are waiting for the new government to be formed and are hoping to get its approval as well,” Mehta said earlier this week.
This is the IOA’s third attempt to bring the Asian Games to Delhi after it lost out to South Korea to host this year’s edition and then pulled out from bidding for the 2019 Games. In 2010, the IOA had projected an operating budget of $401 million for the event, while the revenue generation was estimated at $ 450 million. South Korea has spent a little over $1 billion to prepare for this year’s Asian Games.