If everything goes to plan, India may join Germany and Italy to submit its bid to host the 2024 Olympics. The Indian government and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have begun preliminary talks to bring the event to India and the initial response from both ends has been positive, according to a top IOA official.
In fact, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach is scheduled to visit New Delhi for a day on April 27 to meet prime minister Narendra Modi.
Bach, who took over as the IOC chief last year, was invited to Delhi by IOA president N Ramachandran and sports secretary Ajit Sharan. The duo had travelled to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne last week where informal talks took place.
IOA vice-president VD Nanavati said the possibility of India bidding for the 2024 Games will be discussed during the meeting between Modi and Bach. “The IOC president will be in Delhi for one day on April 27. He is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister along with an IOA delegation. During the meeting, it is likely that the prospect of India bidding for the 2024 Olympics will be discussed,” Nanavati told The Indian Express.
The government and IOA were initially hesitant to make a push for the Games considering that Tokyo will be hosting it in 2020. However, it is believed the IOC urged India to submit a bid. “The sports secretary and IOA president met Bach last week to understand the importance of hosting such an event and also see if it is feasible.
During the meeting, they asked the IOC if Asia can host back-to-back Olympics. Bach said it would not be a problem and ultimately, would come down to how strong the bid is and the votes they manage,” a source said.
While no official communication has taken place within the IOA or between the association and sports ministry, sources said there has been no objection to the idea. Many within the IOA see this as an opportunity to redeem some pride after the disastrous build-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games. It must be noted that the decision to host the CWG was taken in 2003, during last NDA government’s tenure.
Hosting an Olympics could end up costing the exchequer billions of dollars. Though keen, the government is yet to make up its mind. India was also keen to host the 2019 Asian Games but indecisiveness within the IOA and the sports ministry’s hesitance meant the country could not submit its bid within the deadline set by the Olympic Council of Asia.
On this occasion, it has time till September 15 to send the name of Applicant Cities. The deadline to submit application files and guarantee letters is January 8, 2016. The host city will be selected in 2017.
New Delhi is believed to be the initial choice because of the available infrastructure but a final decision on the host city will be taken only after the meeting and in consultation with the state governments. The IOA and the government is preparing a feasibility report and sources said there would be more clarity on the issue in 10 days to two weeks’ time.
If India goes ahead with the idea, then it will face stiff competition from Hamburg and Rome, the two European cities who have already decided to bid for the Games.
Boston too is in contention but the city is scheduled to hold a referendum on whether the bid should go forward. Other potential bids include Casablanca and Nairobi whereas Doha and the Malaysia-Thailand joint bid are other Asian countries in fray.