INDIA looks set to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games after officials arranged a meeting between prime minister Narendra Modi and the Olympic chief later this month.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach will hold talks with Modi on April 27 and their discussions are likely to include the development of sports in India as well as the country’s interest in hosting the 2024 Games. Sources in the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) said the government would sound Bach out about the fact that the country is keen to bid for the event for the first time.
Italian city Rome and Hamburg in Germany are bidding for the global sporting festival that year, while Paris (France), Doha (Qatar), Istanbul (Turkey) and Baku (Azerbaijan) are seen as possible contenders.
Boston (US) is also considering a bid. The IOC will select the 2024 host city in 2017. Bach became IOC president in 2013, and it will be his first visit to India after taking over as chief of the international body. India’s sports secretary Ajit Sharan and IOA president N Ramachandran invited Bach, a former Olympian fencer from Germany, to India.
“The IOA and the government of India have invited IOC chief Dr Thomas Bach for a meeting with the prime minister of India in the last week of this month to discuss the development of sports in India,” said Ramachandran.
During his visit to India, Bach is also expected to meet top IOA officials. He is understood to have a “very keen” interest on the development of Olympic sports in the country and wants India to play a big role in the Olympic movement in the coming years.
IOA senior vice-president Virendra Nanavati said the sports fraternity in the country will be happy if the government of India decides to bid for the 2024 Games.
“Our prime minister is a dynamic leader. If the government thinks India can bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, the IOA, sportspersons and the people will be happy,” he said.
“Ultimately, it is the government which will have to bear the cost if at all India wants to host such a big Games. The IOA alone can’t do anything,” he added. Rio de Janerio in Brazil will stage the next Olympics in 2016, while Japan’s capital Tokyo will play host to the 2020 Games.
Cities interested in bidding for the 2024 Games will have to submit “Application Files and Guarantee Letters” from their respective governments to the IOC no later than January 2016. After a working group assesses the applications, the IOC executive board will announce the shortlisted cities around May next year.
The world body will then vote to select the host city during the 130th IOC session in Lima, Peru, on September 15, 2017. The host city of the 2024 Games may spend less than their previous counterparts as the IOC has adopted a slew of reforms recently, including financial support from the parent world body to the country hosting the Games.
The London 2012 Olympics cost £8.77 billion, and a feasibility study on holding the Games in Paris put the potential cost at €6.2bn (although backers say construction costs would be limited because the Paris region already has top-quality sporting facilities, such as the Roland Garros tennis centre and the Stade de France).
Under the 40 reforms that make up Olympic Agenda 2020 adopted by the 127th IOC session in Monaco in December last year, the IOC has made changes to the 2024 Olympic bid process, such as reducing the cost of bidding and organising the Games, to ensure it leaves a positive, long-term, sustainable legacy while also meeting the needs of the city and region though with no compromise for the athletes.
India is a newcomer when it comes to hosting global sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympics. The cricket-crazy country co-hosted the Cricket world cup in 2011, along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
In 2010, India held the Commonwealth Games but endured six months of dire press coverage and critical public sentiment before the opening ceremony as the budget soared out of control, corruption claims multiplied and organisers appeared out of their depth.