Contrary to speculation that India may consider bidding for the 2032 Olympics, Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the government “does not foresee us hosting big tournaments in the immediate future”. Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, Rathore said his focus would be to build “small, practical playfields” instead of “mammoth stadiums” that will be required to host an event like the Olympics.
Rathore’s statement comes ahead of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach’s scheduled visit to India on April 18-20. Bach is likely to call on senior government officials, apart from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials. He will be accompanied by Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad al Sabah.
Last week, IOA president Narinder Batra said they would “convey readiness to host big-ticket multi-discipline events in India”. Rathore, however, remained noncommittal.
“The bottom line for doing anything, taking such decisions (like hosting big-ticket events), the bottom line needs to be what good is that tournament going to be for our country? Is it going to be beneficial for us? And anything that comes our way, where we have to even consider hosting a big tournament, these are the essentials that we would answer. Right now we don’t foresee us hosting big tournaments in the immediate future,” said Rathore.
“I think what is important is that instead of mammoth stadiums, I would rather have small practical playfields available to a larger section of the public,” he said.
In May last year, then Sports Minister Vijay Goel had said the government was “considering a proposal” by the IOA to host the 2030 Asian Games. The IOA and the government had then informally discussed the possibility of hosting the 2032 Olympics, sources said.
While the hosts for the next two Olympics have already been decided, with Paris winning the 2024 Olympics bid and Los Angeles getting the hosting rights for the 2028 Games, the bidding process for the 2032 edition is still some time away and the winner will be declared only in 2025.
However, it takes several years for the bid document to be prepared and submitted to the IOC, considering the financial commitment and involvement of multiple agencies. Apart from India, Germany and Australia (Brisbane), which is co-hosting this month’s Commonwealth Games, have expressed interest in hosting the 2032 Games.
After the 2010 Commonwealth Games scandal, the IOA has only recently begun to show interest in bringing major multi-discipline events to India. The government, however, has remained cautious.
Asked if the government and bureaucrats were still scarred by the CWG scandal, Rathore said: “I think as a government officer, one needs to be always aware that the minds of the public should always be used for the rightful purpose. I don’t know if I would call it scarring, but we need to be always aware of this fact, irrespective of how many years we are down the line from the Commonwealth Games. Having said that, when your intentions are right, I think there also should not be any fear in stepping out of the box and doing some new things which are for the benefit of the people.”