IOA’s Olympic bid: Is India ready for Games that will cost over ₹2 lakh crore?

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Olympics in India is a dream of each sports lover in the country. The Indian Olympic Association has confirmed its seriousness to bring the 2032 Olympic Games to India with a  formal expression of interest to bid for the event.

The IOA president Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra means business. The next step is to approach the Government for the support and nod to make the formal bid.

The cost of hosting the 2032 Olympic Games will be a crucial factor in the Government evaluation. The bigger question can be, is India ready to play host to the Games that by 2032 will cost on the higher side of ₹2 lakh crore, inflation and other market factors still not taken into consideration.

According to an estimation by the Japan Government’s Board of Audit, Tokyo 2020 will cost the nation over $ 25 billion (₹1.76 lakh crore). Beijing Olympic were organised at a whopping $44.5 billion and Brazil had spent $20 billion to make the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games a reality.

Olympics while bringing prestige to the nation of late have been taking a toll of host country’s economy. The $11 billion cost of the 2004 Athens Games had sparked financial crises in Greece. As Rio won the bid to stage the 2016 Olympics, Brazil was in the midst of its best Economic state in half-a-century. The nation ended up spending $6 billion more than the initial estimates of $14 million, the huge burden on the exchequer applying breaks on the economic growth.

Tokyo, which has also hosted the 1940 and the 1964 Olympics Games, had initial budget of $7.3 billion for the 2020 Games as the City had to upgrade most of its facilities and create several other infrastructure. The cost not is estimated to go past $25 billion. Japan had also hosted the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo and 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano and still stayed a strong economy.

That will be the model India need to follow. Among world’s fast-developing economies, India has successfully hosted the inaugural 1951 and 1982 Asian Games and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Not just the organisation was successful, but the Games infrastructure has been put to the best use, unlike the Athens or the Rio Games.

There are other significant factors that will support IOA’s initiative to bring the Olympics Games to India for the first time ever. The Olympic host countries have traditionally seen  an increase in trade, leading to increased foreign investment. The travel and tourism revenues increase as people from across the world converge for the Games and propagate the nation as a tourist destination. These factors contribute to economic growth, though marginally.

The costs though are huge, but India as a growing economy will be in a position to reap long-term benefits from infrastructural investment. This may be a sheer coincidence that the news about the IOA’s formal expression of interest to host the 2032 Games follows the reports about the NBCC proposal to build a city around the upcoming Jewar Airport with amnesties sufficient to host the Olympic Games.

Also read: Jewar Airport project can be India’s gateway to Olympics

The meticulous IOA President doesn’t leave tasks unfinished. As the Hockey India President, Dr Batra has seen the country emerging as the power to reckon with in the sport the world over. He was the man behind the success of hockey’s most successful professional league – the HIL.

The IOA has already submitted a formal expression of interest to the IOC to host the 2032 Olympic. He had reportedly told the visiting International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach earlier this year that India would consider bidding for the 2032 Games. Bach had welcomed the move.

IOA Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta thereafter had had a meeting with the three-member bid committee of the IOC in Tokyo recently. “We are dead serious about this bid for the 2032 Olympics. So, we have already submitted to the IOC the letter expressing our interest in hosting 2032 Olympic Games. I had a meeting with the Bid Committee of the IOC. They welcomed the move and said that India should have hosted an Olympic Games much earlier,” Mehta has told PTI.

New Delhi and Mumbai are the top two venues in the minds of the IOA top brass but other cities are also not ruled out, reports PTI.

“At the first stage, a country expresses its interest to bid for the Olympics and at a later stage the proposed host city or cities is (are) mentioned in the bid. India has not bid or expressed interest to host Olympic Games earlier,” Mehta added.

The bid process for the 2032 Olympics will start in 2022 and a host city will be announced in 2025.

Indonesia, Shanghai and Brisbane will be among the other contenders for the Games, while a joint bid from the North and South Korea and a German bid are also expected.

The IOA General Body on December 22 is expected to pass a resolution to formally approach the Government to back the bid plan. “We are going to approach the government to back the bid after our GBM passes a resolution to that effect. The bidding process will start in 2022 but before that we have to get the nod from the central government that it will back the bid,” Mehta said.

“We have to get the letter of backing from the Central Government, from the State Government where the proposed venue is located and even from the Leader of the Opposition Party. We also have to get a lot of guarantees from various Government agencies. But all these will start only if the Government says it will back such a bid,” said Mehta.

The response of the Government has been cautious so far. Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has hinted that India would do better to get more Olympic medals or spend the money on sporting infrastructure than host the spectacle in the country.

“We have made this (intention to bid for 2032 Olympic Games) known to the government but the Sports Ministry has been muted in its response so far. On the part of IOA, we are all prepared to start working for the bid process. We will do what we can do and the rest it is up to the government (to back IOA or not),” he said.