Call it overly ambitious given how the Commonwealth Games is under the scanner but the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) whose president is also Suresh Kalmadi is ringing alarm bells. Reason: its less than two weeks before the key meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia in Guangzhou,China,where the names of bidders for the 2019 and 2023 Asian Games will be announced and the government is yet to take a call.
Ideally,the governments letter of intent the formal bids have to come in only next July should reach OCA at least two days before the meeting. India lost two successive bids to host the Asian Games (2006 and 2014).
So if this bus is missed,India cant be a contender for the next 13 years.
IOAs Vice-President Randhir Singh,who is also OCAs Secretary General,is the main votary for making a bid,but officials told The Indian Express,the two-week deadline seems an impossible one for the Cabinet to give the green light.
In the two weeks since the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games,IOA officials have not met even once to discuss the issue.
Despite this,Randhir Singh now says: The government should give us an indication that they are interested and we can put a detailed proposal in place in two days. If we do not,we will lose our chances of bidding till 2023 and let down the youth and sportspersons of India. I am looking forward to an Indian bid since the Asian Games will put us on track for hosting the Olympic Games in future.
While Kalmadi did not return calls,IOA Vice-President Vijay Kumar Malhotra said: The IOA should immediately hold an emergency meeting on the subject and engage with the government at the highest level. All we will need is construction of two or three more indoor stadia in New Delhi which has just successfully hosted the Commonwealth Games.
However,Injeti Srinivas,Joint Secretary of the Sports Ministry told The Indian Express that the ball had been in the IOAs court for several months now and a last-minute dash to Guangzhou wont work. Only a miracle can now make the bid a reality, he said.
It was 18 months ago that we told the IOA to give us a more comprehensive proposal but havent heard from them since. With the bits and pieces of paper that the IOA has given us,the government is not even in a position to appraise the proposal and take a well-informed decision.
He added that with the Asian Games having over 40 disciplines (against the 17 disciplines of the Commonwealth Games),the financial implications of the decision were enormous. There is also the issue of which Indian city should be the venue for the next event, he said. We cannot be Delhi-centric in our approach just because the Commonwealth Games have created new sporting infrastructure in the Capital. The IOA has to do more homework since what we have before us is a frivolous proposal.
This was a view Sports Minister M S Gill had gone public with in July when he had said,To consider any such great event which has major financial and other implications,there is a system. The IOA has to prepare a comprehensive document with financial and other details and has to pass a formal resolution in its executive board and then present it to the Sports Ministry. At that time,the Ministry had given the IOA a mid-July deadline to submit all the documents.