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Olympic sport still not a priority

The Indian success at Beijing, if it can be called one, and the subsequent euphoria was the spark the corporate world needed to venture into the world of Olympic sport, reports Subhash Rajta.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2008 23:54 IST
Subhash Rajta

The Indian success at Beijing, if it can be called one, and the subsequent euphoria was the spark the corporate world needed to venture into the world of Olympic sport.

It has created an opportunity for the marketers to look beyond cricket, but then it's just a small beginning, with questions still looming large about the commercial viability of this venture.

"Our showing in Beijing has obviously generated some interest in the corporate world, but the question is how do we sustain this interest. When are we going to hear next about Abhinav Bindra, Sushil and Vijender? If it's going to happen just in Commonwealth Games, Asian Games or the next Olympics, it's not going to take long for this interest to wane," cautioned Subhinder Singh from Reebok.

Basabdatta Chowdhuri, representing a sport management company, Madison Media Plus, was even more blunt in her observation. "Why does everyone keep expecting the corporate world to come forward and lend a helping hand? Why should someone invest and associate itself with sports if they aren't going to get any mileage out of it?" she asked.

So is sports, excluding cricket, not a commercially viable product as yet? "Yes, it's not. The people involved will have to make investments and make it lucrative enough for corporates to venture into it. No one is out there for charity, so why expect it from the corporate world?" she asked.

She said that initiatives taken under the Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) are fine, but sport will need to have commercial viability for the long term and more meaningful association with the corporate world.

But do they see our sports system changing and the sports administrators and corporates working in tandem for the growth of sports? "Well, everyone associated with sports need to join hands if we have make a mark at the international level," Subhinder said. The sports administrators, on the other hand, were enthusiastic for providingmileage to the corporates.