With two weeks to go for the Asian Games bid for 2019 and 2023 to be finalised, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) feels that it is for the country as a whole to decide on the question of hosting the Games.
Senior IOA officials met here Monday and decided to approach the sports ministry to take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and get it through the cabinet. The letter to the ministry will be dispatched Tuesday, according to a top IOA official.
"It is not the IOA or the government to decide on the bid, the entire country has to take the decision. Ideally, all political parties must come together and decide since a lot of factors like the government in power in 2014, the rupee value, inflation will have to be taken into account before taking a decision," said the official not wanting to be named.
"After seeing the way the blame game and the inquiries that followed the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, none of the IOA officials or even political leaders might like to stick their necks out," he said.
In two weeks, the Olympic Council of Asia will meet during the Nov 12-27 Guangzhou Asian Games to decide on the bidders.
Injeti Srinivas, joint secretary, sport ministry, said the ministry is not against the development of sports in the country, it is only looking for well thought out, well calibrated, well-planned bid document that answers all questions.
"Any hastily prepared bid will run into the problems that CWG faced or the earlier bids for the Asian Games. It can't be a knee-jerk reaction. We can't be going to the cabinet with a failed bid document. It has to be a robust, strong and winnable bid document," Srinivas said.
Srinivas also wondered why only Delhi should be the venue for all major sporting events.
"Look at China and Korea, how they have taken the Games to different cities. In any case, by 1919, all the CWG facilities need to be upgraded as the Asian Games will have 35-40 disciplines unlike the CWG's 17."
IOA officials feel that there is little the government has to do as it already has the bid documents they submitted for the 2014 Games which they lost to South Korea.
In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, the IOA officials and the sports ministry had preliminary discussions and they need to pick up the threads again.
The IOA chiefs were of the opinion that India cannot isolate itself from the sports world, more so at a time when Indian sports is looking up.
IOA secretary general Randhir Singh said the road map for Indian sport cannot be breached at this juncture, the government should take a positive view of the bid.
"Look at countries like China, Korea and Britain, they all got the Olympics after hosting either a regional Games or the Commonwealth Games whereas India had to wait for 28 years to organise a major event after the 1982 Asian games," Randhir told IANS.
IOA vice-president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, a top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and who was largely responsible for India getting the 1982 Asian Games, said that the best way to keep in use the infrastructure created for the CWG is to get the Asian Games as quickly as possible.
"I know most of us may not be around by 2019 or 2023, but that does not mean we should not look at the future of Indian sport. If the CWG facilities are not used for sport, then they will be used for political rallies and film star nights and that should be stopped at any cost," Malhotra told IANS.