Just a few days ago, Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajiv Mehta said he would discuss the possibility of hosting the Commonwealth Games 2022 in India. The government has maintained an uncanny silence.
Whether it is prudent to just keep hosting Commonwealth Games after Games without improving our standards is something we need to be clear about.
There, however, is some kind of consolation if we look at the 2010 CWG. India spent quite a lot of money to prepare the athletes in the run up, and the same set of athletes who did well in Delhi went on to win at London Olympics. That despite the budget being reduced to almost half after the 2010 Games. Sport-wise, to an extent, nothing goes waste.
Beyond that? If we want to just show our organisational skills and economical might without furthering our sporting excellence, perhaps the whole purpose will be rendered useless. The government is already spending a lot on sportspersons. It is perhaps right to focus on improving sports right now than organise a Games.
Won’t be easy
The IOA cannot host the Games on its own. It needs assurances from the government and host city. The IOA officials know they cannot openly support hosting the Games after India’s not-too-flattering performance at Rio. The IOA cannot afford to be lackadaisical.
The sports ministry is closely monitoring their activities. So announcing that it would like to host Games without consulting them would lead to another showdown between the two. The sports minister and the IOA president refused to even comment. The issue right now is fraught with fragility and peril. Can India afford to host the Games? After hosting the South Asian Games with a frugal budget, it seems it has the ability. But the CWG is a different ballgame. It involves various stakeholders – the state, the city, the Commonwealth Games Federation and the IOA. Above all a budget that runs into thousands of crores. The ghost of 2010 is still stalking the Congress. This government definitely know this.
Others are reeling
Hosting multi-disciplinary mega events come with its perks and pitfalls. In this age of fluctuating (most of the time spiralling) economies, it can be risky and at times fatal. It was Greek tragedy literally when they hosted the 2004 Olympics. The curse of the monetary burden saw a president removed in Rio (Olympics) last year. Even a developed nation like South Korea grappled with the possibility of giving up the rights to host the Asian Games in 2014. Finally, when the Olympic Council of Asia managed to convince them, the host city said it would not spend as much money as it laid down in its bid document. Some kind of a compromise was reached but it was a management disaster with cost-cutting vivid all it has done. Durban dropped out of the race after South African government realised financially it was not suitable for them. A lot of countries are now abstaining from bidding because of the costs. Perhaps, time has come for the IOC, CGF and OCA to keep costs to a bare minimum — cut the riff-raffs and focus and sports.