Go In­dia, Go The hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence of 2010 CWG shouldn’t stop In­dia from bid­ding for the 2032 Olympics

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Bo­ria Majumdar

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.

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