India has formally entered the fray to host the 2019 Asian Games. Rajeev Mehta, the secretary general of the IOA, wrote a letter to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah saying that the IOA was interested in hosting the meet.
The move comes after the green light from the IOA president N Ramachandran, who was initially opposed to the idea of bidding for the games.
“I promptly wrote the letter to the OCA president, which formally starts the process after the IOA president gave us the go ahead early this morning,” Mehta told The Indian Express.
In a letter to Mehta on Friday, Ramachandran wrote: “Since you have taken the lead and sought the opinion on behalf of IOA to bid for the Asian Games 2019, you may take all steps that are necessary, in compliance with the IOA constitution, and applicable laws, for submitting the bid in time.”
This ends the public spat within the IOA that had almost stalled the process after Vietnam pulled out as hosts in April this year citing financial trouble.
While Mehta has been drumming up support within the IOA to lodge the bid, Ramachandran had expressed his reservations. But an overwhelming support from national sports federations and the state olympic bodies — almost 85 percent of the 183 members supported the idea — was reason enough for Ramachandran to change the stance.
In the letter dated June 20, Mehta wrote: “I have the pleasure to inform you that the Indian Olympic Association would officially like to submit its bid for hosting 18th Asian Games in the city of Delhi, India, as per the constitution of the Olympic council of Asia.
“The members of the IOA have approved to bid for the hosting of 2019 Asian Games. We are in dialogue with Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports for obtaining necessary approvals. We request that bid documents may be sent to us, so that IOA can submit its bid for hosting the 18th Asian Games.” OCA secretary general Randhir Singh has welcomed the move saying India has a good chance of winning the bid over the Indonesian city of Surabaya, which lost the original bid to Hanoi, also in the running again.
The IOA will have to furnish several guarantees from the government, with the clearances from finance ministry, home ministry, external affairs ministry and sports ministry being the key. Assurances will be needed from the Delhi government as well before presenting the proposal to the cabinet, which will make the final decision. It is a lengthy process which may take several weeks to complete.
“But to ensure we submit the bid document in time, we will seek backing from the external affairs, home and sports ministry, subject to cabinet approval for the time being, so that the July 1 deadline can be met,” a source said.
“There will be an evaluation period of 90 days when the OCA will screen the bid and during that period we will try to get the cabinet’s approval.”
Ramachandran and IOA’s senior vice-president VD Nanavati met sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal last week and discussed the issue. The minister reiterated his support if the IOA decides to bid.
This will be the IOA’s second attempt to bring the 2019 Asian Games home after failing initially.
They lost out to Incheon to host this year’s Asiad and the subsequent bid for the 2019 edition fizzled out. But sports secretary Ajit Sharan has said detailed deliberations are yet to happen between the IOA officials and the ministry.
“I don’t think there have been detailed deliberations with us so let them send their proposal to us.”