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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Explained: How Delhi’s aim to host 2048 Olympics is not a pipe dream

On Tuesday, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia pledged to launch a bid for the 2048 Games to mark 100 years of India’s independence.

Written by Mihir Vasavda , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 10, 2021 9:45:09 am
Delhi, Olympics, Delhi budgetDelhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has pledged to launch a bid for the 2048 Games to mark 100 years of India’s independence. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also thrown his weight behind the Olympic dream. (PTI photo)

After two recent failed attempts, India has thrown its hat in the ring once again to host the Olympics. On this occasion, it’s a good 27 years before the proposed edition and at least 14 years before the process to select the hosts gets underway.

On Tuesday, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia pledged to launch a bid for the 2048 Games to mark 100 years of India’s independence.

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Speaking while presenting the Delhi Budget, Sisodia, who holds the finance portfolio, said: “Next – 32nd Olympic Games are to be held in Tokyo. The next three Olympic Games host cities have also been decided. Our government aims to bring the sports facilities and the atmosphere towards sports competitions to such a level through the new Sports University so that we can apply to host the 39th Olympic sports competitions for 2048.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too threw his weight behind the Olympic dream. “A vision has been provided in the budget that 2048 Olympic Games should be held in Delhi. We will take up whatever infrastructure and other necessities that are needed to be created for it,” he said.

Countries placing Olympics at the centre of their long-term development plans isn’t new. China hosted the Beijing Games in 2008 only after it began preparing for it through its ‘Olympic Strategy’ formulated in 1985.

Tedious bidding process

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is currently in the process of finalising the venue for the 2032 edition, hasn’t yet invited bids for the 2048 event. After it chooses the host for 2032, the IOC will first select venues for the 2036, 2040 and 2044 Games before it begins the search for the city to conduct the event in 2048.

While Brisbane seems set to host the 2032 edition, IOC vice-president John Coates, as per a Guardian report, has said the other candidate cities have already been ‘parked for future Games’.

This is in continuation of the IOC’s new process to select host cities. Earlier, the aspiring cities were put in direct competition with each other. Based on their presentations, the IOC Executive Board would cast a vote and the one that received the most votes would be awarded the Games. But that process was considered expensive and faced accusations of being unfair.

So now, an IOC committee gets into discussions with the cities interested to host the Games. The panel vets the bids and engages with the governments and other stakeholders of the interested countries. Based on their observations, the committee recommends a potential host, which the Executive Board then has to take a call on. The IOC has also done away with the strict deadlines for the process.

Hungary, Qatar, Indonesia and Germany were some of the other countries in contention for the 2032 Olympics, and could get a look-in for the subsequent editions.

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Previous attempts

In the last decade, India has considered hosting the sporting extravaganza twice. The country first pitched itself for the 2024 Olympics, with Delhi and Ahmedabad as possible candidates. But that bid fizzled out even before any serious consideration was given to it.

When IOC president Thomas Bach visited Delhi in 2015, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with some sports administrators.

In a press conference before he left, Bach said India was not yet ready to host the Games, which attract close to 10,000 athletes from more than 200 nations and thousands more for the Paralympics. “Frankly, we were a little bit surprised about this speculation (of a potential Indian bid),” Bach had said back then. “Because of different reasons, we think it will be a little too quick for India to have a successful Olympics in 2024.”

Fadnavis’ pitch

Kejriwal isn’t the first chief minister to push his state’s case for an Olympics. In 2018, then Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis pitched Mumbai as a potential host for the 2032 Games. Fadnavis made the announcement during Bach’s visit to India in 2018.

That bid, the IOC had said, was backed by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra and IOC member Nita Ambani. Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, too, backed the idea, saying the government was ‘exploring the possibilities.’

Eventually, the IOC last month said it had entered into a discussion with Brisbane to host the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics, meaning India’s hopes were dashed once again.

Long-term plan

As compared to the two half-baked attempts earlier, this time India has enough time to make a strong case for hosting the Summer Games.
“This may seem far away, but we have to bid for it 10 years before 2048,” Sisodia said. “Before that, it will take 15 years to build adequate infrastructure, to create an atmosphere where sports flourishes and to bring our players to a level where they bring medals in the sports competitions leading to Olympics 2048.”

However, it won’t be only up to the state government. A winning bid requires consent and guarantees from the central and state governments at that time, along with the IOA.

Reacting to Kejriwal’s announcement, Batra told The Indian Express: “We welcome their decision. The process of selecting the host for the 2048 Olympics is a long time away and though I will not be around for the negotiation of the bid as I would have reached my retirement age, I hope by then they will improve the existing sporting infrastructure of Delhi and the region will start producing athletes.”

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