NEW DELHI: International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach today laid to rest speculations about India's possible bid for 2024 Olympics, saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not propose it in their meeting here.
Bach also said that IOC thought that it would be too soon for the country to host a successful Games as the national Olympic body has come out of suspension only last year.
Visiting India for the first time after being elected as IOC chief in 2013, Bach met the Prime Minister at his official residence here this evening during his brief one-day stay in the country.
He also had separate meetings with top officials of the Indian Olympic Association and the Sports Ministry earlier in the day, besides attending a lunch hosted by Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a city hotel.
Bach, who hails from Germany and himself an Olympian fencer, said at a press conference that he was surprised by the speculation in the media that India may bid for 2024 Olympic Games.
He clarified that he checked it with the Prime Minister, who said the country would rather host the Olympics "after full preparation and after having expertise".
"We were aware of the speculation (about India's possible bid for 2024 Games). We were a bit surprised about this speculation because we thought it may be too quick for India to host a successful Olympic Games. I am happy that India has come out of suspension last year but the IOA has to find its feet," Bach said.
"So, we checked with the Prime Minister (regarding the possible bid) and he said he wants to be well prepared and have expertise before doing that. He (the PM) also considered that launching a successful bid for 2024 (before deadline of September 15) may be difficult," Bach said, elaborating about his meeting with the Prime Minister, which he described as "excellent".
Earlier in the morning, IOA members had requested Bach to convey to the Prime Minister their opposition to the controversial Sports Code which the government wants to implement.
The IOA members had told Bach that the Code infringes on the autonomy of the national Olympic bodies under the Olympic Charter. The IOA members had also said that the Sports Ministry's various directives on the selection of teams for multi-sporting events amounted to interference in their functioning.
Asked if he had raised this issue and what was the Prime Minister’s response, he said, "I am happy that the Prime Minister said that he would respect autonomy and would be happy in having autonomous partners not only in sports but also in society at large."
"We considered good governance and autonomy as two sides of the same coin. There was an agreement between the government and the IOA last year and I hope there is mutual respect between NOCs and the government," he added.
Terming India a sleeping giant in international sports, Bach said that India can be a sports powerhouse in future and said the IOC would be happy to help India in achieving this.
"The Prime Minister is very much aware of the value of sports in the education of boys and girls and the value of sports in bringing cohesion in the society. We both agreed that India with its 1.2 billion population and 80 million youth is a sleeping giant. We discussed how to wake up this
sleeping giant," he said while using the term which was earlier coined by world football governing body FIFA President Joseph Blatter in the context of football in 2007.
“He (the PM) was very clear that he would use all his dynamism to wake up this giant and we are ready to assist him in this. India has a huge potential in sports. India can become a sports powerhouse," said Bach who had visited India earlier a few years ago when he was a vice-president of the IOC.