There had been speculation in the past, but it now seems India is serious about bidding for the Asian or Olympic Games. This came up for discussion at a recent meeting between Sports Minister Vijay Goel and Indian Olympic Association president N Ramachandran. If insiders are to be believed, they think the nation is ready. The only doubt is whether it should be the Asian Games in 2030, which is financially more viable, or the more humungous Olympic Games in 2032.
It may sound outlandish, but another reason that seems to be fomenting India’s desire is that China has been hosting the Asian Games rather frequently. The ministry and IOA came under attack from sports aficionados for not getting their priorities right and wasting money in hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Bidding for 2030 or 2032 will give the ministry and the IOA enough time to prepare and improve the sporting scenario in the country. India hosted the Asian Games in 1982 and the time is right for another.
In Asia, we are in the top six-seven. But when it comes to the Olympics, we linger at the bottom. It’s not something a country aiming big is proud of. If it is the Olympics that we want to host, we must ensure that the standard of sport improves. A poor haul will render organisational efforts useless. After hosting the Commonwealth Games, the standard had improved. But we were not able to maintain it because our vision was myopic.
We were just targeting the Commonwealth Games. This time, we have about 13–15 years. If we start planning now and concentrate on the grassroots, we will leave a legacy that will last longer than the Commonwealth Games. For that to happen, the ministry must ensure that truant federations fall in line and start working for the benefit of sportspersons rather than officials. Until that happens, there is no way a successful bidding will lead to a powerful sporting nation.