Despite its president N Ramachandran seeming reluctant, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta has asked for an email consent from the 183 members over the prospect of bidding for the 2019 Asian Games.
This will be a departure from the past, where the decisions to bid for a major event were taken during an AGM. In an email sent to the members on Monday, Mehta said since they did not have ‘sufficient time to take the consent to host the Games, I am requesting all members vide this email to give their consent either in favour of submitting a bid for hosting the 2019 Asian Games in New Delhi or against the submission of a bid.’
The deadline to submit the bid to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is July 1. Last month, Mehta expressed interest in bidding for the Games but conflicting opinions have emerged since. While the secretary is keen, the president has not expressed so. The sports ministry, meanwhile, has indicated that they will support the bid if the IOA makes a formal proposal. Last week, Ramachandran and senior vice-president VD Nanavati met sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal where the issue was discussed. Sonowal reiterated government’s support if IOA decides to bid.
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The IOA will need a simple majority (92 votes) to begin the bidding process for the Games. And early indications coming out of the Olympic Bhavan are positive. Sources suggested most of the members are in favour of bringing the Games to Delhi and by evening on Monday, they had received consents from at least 55 members. However, they have sought concrete assurances from the government.
“We are obviously keen to bring the Games to India but the government has to assure us of full backing. We need that guarantee before moving ahead,” said a member.
If the IOA gets consent from its members, the same document which was used for the bid for this year’s Asian Games will be updated and re-submitted. However, the biggest challenge would be to get a cabinet approval before the deadline.
The 2019 Asian Games were originally to be held in Vietnam but the country pulled out citing economical reasons. Currently, Indonesia are tipped to be the favourites to replace Hanoi with Malaysia and Qatar also in the fray. The Olympic Council of Asia will announce the host country on September 20, during the next edition of the Asian Games in Incheon.