The Narendra Modi government is exploring the idea of bringing the 2024 Olympics to the country, a move that requires multi-million dollars in the bidding campaign and billions more if an Indian city gets to host the world’s biggest sporting event.
The government has invited International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach, a former Olympic fencer from Germany, for a likely meeting with Prime Minister Modi on April 27 where the two could discuss a possible bid for the 2024 Games, sources said on Friday.
Officially, the invite was sent to Bach to discuss ways to develop Olympic sports in the country, an Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official said, but the government would take the opportunity to inform him about India’s desire to host the Games nine years from now.
Last year, the Modi government refused to endorse the IOA’s move to host the 2018 Asian Games, reportedly on the ground of the financial burden involved.
Other than prohibitive expenses, the scam-hit 2010 Commonwealth Games also played a part in scuttling the Asiad bid, sources said. The 2010 event was riddled with allegations of rampant corruption and poor ticket sales, and it left behind a legacy of state-of-the-art stadia rusting in neglect.
The IOC is expected to contribute approximately $1.5 billion to the 2024 host city, which will be encouraged to focus on existing venues and temporary facilities that don’t require long-term investment.
Considering Rio de Janeiro’s $10-billion infrastructure budget for the 2016 Olympics, the IOC’s share for the 2024 event would be a fraction of the money India must spend on facilities because no Indian city, not even Delhi which hosted the 1982 Asiad and 2010 CWG, has stadia matching the strict Olympic parameters, sources said.
IOA senior vice-president Virendra Nanavati welcomed the news of the government’s desire to host the Olympics. “Ultimately, it is the government which will have to bear the cost, if at all India wants to host such a big event,” he said.
India has until September 15 to make up its mind and bid for the 2024 Olympics. The IOC will announce the shortlisted cities around May next year and vote to select the host city in Lima in 2017.
(With agency inputs)