Go India, Go The horrible experience of 2010 CWG shouldn’t stop India from bidding for the 2032 Olympics
In 2007, the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) organising committee did a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis as part of its planning exercise. Listed prominently in the opportunities section was a clear state - ment of belief that the CWG wou ld ‘ pr e s e nt t he i mage of I ndia as an emerging economic power and Del hi as a g l o b a l bu s i ne s s hub city’. Drawing a clear link with India’s vocal ambitions of becoming a major global power, the planners also highlighted the connections between the city’s sporting history and its recent evolution.
T he s a l e s pi t c h for Delhi’s bid presented the city’s post-1947 history as one that had chugged along on the engines of the two Asian Games it had hosted. According to this view, the 1951 Delhi Asiad — the first ever — was central to the original nationalist project. It led to the creation of new sporting infrastructure as well as a ‘future plan to guide the country, on the drawing board’.
This was the strand that linked it directly to 1982. As the bid document boasted, the 1982 Asiad t ur ned Del hi i nto a ‘ changed and modern city’ with ‘one of the swankiest stadia in the world’. And finally 2010 CWG, with a budget touching several thousand exploit the gains in the medium term, the legacy of the 2010 CWG is more negative than positive. 101 medals at Delhi 2010 have now been reduced to just two at the 2016 Rio Games. Many of the stadiums built in Delhi are no more than white elephants with no proper plan in place to convert them into revenue-generating self-sufficient establishments. Should India go down the mega event route ever again? Can mega events really convert a country into a multi-sporting one and give it a push that nothing else can offer?
I f the experience of Rio 2016 is an index and Brazil a good counterpoint for India going forward, the Games in Rio did end up making Brazil a potential sporting superpower. Brazilians won many gold medals at home and the whole country was behind its medal winners. Roads would turn deserted when a Brazilian was involved in a contest and the Olympics had captured the nations’ imagination. India too can do the same with t he 2 0 3 2 Ga mes. Wit h the reforms 2020 agenda f i r mly i n pl ace, it wil l not be a surprise i f the IOC decides to favourably look at the global South as hosts for 2032. This is more so with Paris and Los Angeles confirmed as hosts of 2024 and 2028 and with China hosting the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
I ndia, it must be said, h a s a g r e at c h a nc e i n 2032 if it mounts a proper bid. With Nita Ambani as India’s IOC member, corporate support, it can be conjectu red, would not be an issue and technolog y and infrastructure should also be in place. India is hosting the U-17 World Cup in October and is in line to play host to the next U-21 FIFA World Cup. The cricket World Cup too will come back to India in 2023 and it will be rat her su r pri si ng i f India refuses to bid for 2032 based on t he poor CWG ex p erience. Athletes, most of all, will benefit and mounting a proper bid might finally herald the turnaround we are looking for.
Planning, however, needs to start immediately if things are to move in the right direction and there can be no better occasion than the 70th anniversary of independence to mark a new beginning.