The sports ministry is willing to back the country’s bid for the 2019 Asian Games but has put the ball in the court of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) saying they have to submit a formal proposal first. However, with the IOA still unsure, the country is in danger of running out of time to meet the July 1 deadline to submit the bid.
A ministry official said on Tuesday that the government will be happy to host the Asian Games five years down the line. “However, we haven’t heard from the IOA yet. If they want to make a bid, they need to make the proposal so that we can meet the deadline,” the official said.
However, an apparent rift within the IOA could foil the plan. It is believed that the relationship between IOA president N Ramachandran and secretary general Rajiv Mehta has gone frosty, which has had an impact on the decision making process within the federation.
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The rift, which began after Ramachandran participated in the talks to form Boxing India without keeping rest of the IOA in the loop, came to the fore once again last week when he countered Mehta’s claims of bidding for the Games.
Last month, Mehta talked of the IOA’s desire to stage the Games following the withdrawal of original host Vietnam, saying it was banking on the next central government to approve the plans. Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general Jiji Thomson had backed Mehta’s plans.
However, Ramachandran played down the issue, saying the IOA had no plans of launching a bid. “The IOA has not discussed it at all, so it would not be fair for me to discuss this,” he said.
The issue might be raised on Thursday when the IOA top brass is likely to meet with Sonowal and rest of the ministry officials to review the preparations for next month’s Commonwealth Games.