Sports minister Kiren Rijiju said India would feel ‘proud’ if it gets hosting rights for the 2032 Olympics but warned that the country should be well-prepared for it rather than ‘creating an embarrassing situation.’
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is in the process of bidding for three major international events – the 2026 Youth Olympics, 2030 Asian Games, and 2032 Olympics. In April last year, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in Mumbai, pitching the city’s candidature for the Youth Games and Olympics. On Tuesday, IOA president Narinder Batra and India’s IOC member Nita Ambani submitted a bid to host the 2023 IOC Session in Mumbai.
Rijiju said the government is ‘positive’ about the ambition to bring major international events to India and said they’ll have a discussion about this with the IOA.
“It is a pride for any nation to host any big international event. The question is, are you prepared for that? You can’t just have an event and create an embarrassing situation. It’s not only hosting the event. It’s about hosting the event in a befitting manner,” Rijiju said. “There’s no doubt that a nation would feel proud of hosting a big event, especially the Olympics. We are positive, we’ll discuss this with the IOA. These are big decisions, we cannot speak just in a fit of the moment. This can be declared after proper discussion, planning, and idea.”
Rijiju, however, dismissed IOA general secretary Rajeev Mehta’s threat to pull out of the 2022 Commonwealth Games after the organisers dropped shooting from the programme. “I haven’t discussed with the shooting federation. Officially, I don’t know about their position. If you have to boycott, you have to ask the government because these decisions are not to be taken unilaterally, it has to be done through proper consultation,” Rijiju said.
Rijiju was talking on the sidelines of a felicitation function held by SAI for the women’s hockey team, which secured a spot in the final qualifying round for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. The team, coached by Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, was unbeaten in its campaign as they beat Japan in the FIH Series finals Hiroshima on Sunday. They are now likely to play a two-legged tie at home in October-November.
Rijiju, who took over from Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore as the sports minister earlier this month, said they’ll provide the team with all the support they need in qualifying for the Olympics. However, he refused to predict the number of medals India will win at the Tokyo Games.
“Olympic medal is something we should not predict. It is a pride of the nation to get even one medal… it is not easy to perform. We have just over a year and a year is a good time to re-look and ensure that all the preparation are well on course so that India produces best-ever performance in 2020 Olympics.”
Asked about the administrative troubles plaguing the archery and gymnastics federations, Rijiju said the government ‘will not be a mute spectator if a sport is destroyed by mismanagement in any federation.’
“What happened in archery, there are certain directions given by the court and after that the two factions did something which is not proper. But whatever it may be, we will ask them to work in tandem with the court directive and the interests of the players should not suffer,” Rijiju said.
Rijiju, who is the president of Arunachal Pradesh Archery Association, said he will resign from the post to avoid a potential conflict of interest.