If not as a nation excelling in sports, India has started taking pride in being a good host for global sporting events. The 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi was the first step. The 2017 Under-17 football World Cup held across six venues was the next one. There have also been other events like the men’s hockey World Cup, women’s world boxing championship and the shooting World Cup. A few others are lined up, with grand plans of hosting the 2032 Olympics in the pipeline.
World-class infrastructure, smooth travel arrangements and efficient organisation—many facets of a developing nation can be showcased.
But the recent news on this front has not been encouraging. The decision to not grant visa to the Pakistani contingent for last month’s shooting World Cup in New Delhi following the Pulwama terror attack has not been well received by the global sporting community. The Olympic Charter makes it mandatory for host nations to ensure participation from all countries irrespective of international relations. The consequences of not allowing the Pakistani shooters to compete in New Delhi have started showing. The world wrestling body has taken away the Asian junior championship that was to be held in July and asked all national federations to stop communicating with the Wrestling Federation of India. It is too early to think India will be shunned as a destination by all sports.
But the fact that one event is gone does not augur well for a country hoping to host more. The hockey FIH Series Finals, which is doubling up as Olympic qualifiers, is scheduled for June. Badminton and golf competitions are coming up as well.
The only solution is an assurance that participants will not be denied entry by the Indian government. Sports federations are helpless since only the government can take a call on this. With elections coming up and officials concerned not in a position to decide immediately, India’s fate as a host nation hangs in the balance. It is unlikely that anything will happen before a new government is sworn in. India’s aspirations of presenting a sports-friendly image have to be put on hold until that time.