IOA not bidding for CWG 2022 ; says it’s too late

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The sports ministry and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have ruled out an Indian bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games but said they will go the ‘China way’ and look to host other multi-discipline events in the future. Sports minister Vijay Goel said the government will “definitely consider” IOA’s proposals in the future, ‘whether it is for the Asian Games or the Olympics.’

The IOA secretary general, Mr Rajiv Mehta had said last week that they will consider a bid for the 2022 CWG after Durban was stripped of the hosting rights. The South African city was due to be the first from the continent to host the Games but had to give up after their government could not give financial guarantees. The final decision regarding India’s bid, Mr Mehta had said, would be taken by the IOA president, Mr N Ramachandran, says an Indian Express report.

However, Mr Ramachandran said it was too late for India to step in as a replacement in lieu of a strong bid presented by England. The BBC last week quoted the Commonwealth Games Federation chief, Mr David Grevemberg, saying they would consider a bid from more than one UK city to jointly host the 2022 edition. Birmingham, Liverpool, London and Manchester have expressed interest in hosting the Games.

Mr Ramachandran met the sports minister, Mr Vijay Goel, on Tuesday and apprised him of the situation. “There are too many people in the fray. Durban has not officially withdrawn, although they say they have pulled out. The Commonwealth Games Federation is still in discussion with South Africa,” Mr Ramachandran said after meeting Goel. “UK has come forth. So when these discussions are going on, it is not advisable for the IOA to make a proposal at this late stage. The government also takes the same view.”

The IOA chief said India will follow China’s model, and use major sporting events as a platform to boost the profile of Olympic sports in the country. China’s growth as a sporting superpower has been accompanied by increased emphasis on hosting major international events. The country held an Asian Games and Olympics within two years of each other and will be hosting the 2022 Winter Games. Apart from these multi-discipline events, China has hosted a major tournament in almost every other sport.

Taking a cue from them, Mr Ramachandran said India is already looking into the possibility of hosting a major event but did not divulge any specific details. “At this point in time, it’s premature to say which (event). We are looking at both, conferences as well as multi-discipline events. We should not miss out,” he said. “Unless you have Games in India, our athletes will not get exposure. And the push to do well will also not be there. So we are looking at all possible multi-sport events that can be staged in the country. This is exactly what China did maybe 15-20 years ago. Now they are a force to reckon with in sport.”

India is in the fray to host the 2019 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Congress in Delhi after the government gave the necessary permissions last week. The country will also be hosting the Asian Beach Games, most likely in Mumbai, in 2020. But most of the major events are already taken for the next two cycles, which means the earliest multi-discipline event India can hope to host is the 2026 Asian or Commonwealth Games.

Mr Goel said he has asked Mr Ramachandran to prepare a roadmap for the coming years. “In the future IOA approaches us, we will definitely consider it, whether it is Asian Games or Olympics, etc.”