The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has called off its pursuit to bid for the 2019 Asian Games. The IOA officials were waiting for an appointment with PM Narendra Modi in a last-ditch attempt to get the government’s nod to place a serious bid. However, the association failed to get an audience with the PM while the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) extended deadline ended Sunday.
“It is all over as far as the bid for the 2019 Asian Games is concerned,” IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta, who initiated a late interest in the Games after original host Hanoi pulled out. “The OCA’s deadline ended today, and we failed in our efforts to meet the PM. We will be ending all our efforts to get the Asian Games,” he added.
Mehta said that there won’t be any effort from the IOA to seek another extension from the OCA. “We had already stretched the extension, nothing can happen now.”
Interestingly, it was only a day before the deadline that the IOA had mailed a proper proposal to the sports ministry, who had sought several clarifications from the sports body. Mehta had called on the sports secretary Ajit Sharan last week who had asked detailed budgetary outlays when they were only provided with an operative cost estimate of Rs 5,500 crore. The ministry wanted to know an estimate for the construction of the Games Village and where and how much land was needed to build it, besides other projects that needed to be undertaken in the run-up to the Games.
It’s apparent, therefore, that the fault lies with the IOA. Hanoi had pulled out on April 17 and despite publicly airing its interest, the IOA failed to display a unified stance on the issue. president N Ramachandran and Mehta publicly differed on the issue. The IOA swung into action only after Mehta’s email — dated June 17 — to members to seek their views on the matter. From then on it was always a race against time.