Event ReportsPublished on Oct 30, 2010
Noted sports writer Mr. R. Mohan says that India could host the Olympic Games from 2030s if it learns to stick to schedules and avoid scandals, which had brought bad name initially in the case of the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Can India host the Olympics?
"Can India host the Olympics?": This was the theme of an interaction organised by the Chennai Chapter of Observer Research Foundation on Saturday, 30 October 2010 in the backdrop of demands to bid for Olympics despite the scandal-ridden Commonwealth Games, organised in the national Capital. Initiating the discussion, noted sports writer and now Resident Editor of the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, Mr. R. Mohan, said India would be capable of hosting the Olympics by 2030s.

Discussing various issues, in the background of the initial hiccups experienced in the preparation to the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Mr. Mohan said the nation would have to stick to schedules and avoid scams of the nature that brought a bad name to CWG if India were to hold a successful Olympics. 

Expressing his appreciation for the commendable work done for the CWG, whose inaugural and closing ceremonies came for fulsome praise from across the globe, he pointed out that India was the only second country in Asia, after Malaysia, to host the CWG. He said India, though the CWG, has shown to the world that it was capable and competent to host Olympics.

Mr. Mohan said India has shown two major things. One is the successful conduct of the multi-discipline Games. Second, by emerging second in the overall medal tally, India has showcased its sporting talent outside the well-established cricket. With a total of 101 medals, 38 of them gold, India came second in the tally after Australia, pushing England to the third place.

He said Indian athletes, particularly the women, sparkled. Their performance in the highly competitive events like the 4X100 m relay showed that there was much for the nation to be proud of.  Mr. Mohan also noted how this talent had been spotted from villages and beyond, and praised Haryana’s contribution to the medals’ tally.

However, Mr. Mohan criticised the disgraceful and scandalous preparation of the Games which brought bad name initially. He compared the Rs. 70,000-crore cost of the Games, which also included infrastructure schemes like a new airport, metro railways, flyovers and roads, with the Rs. 30,000-crore equivalent China had spent on the Beijing Olympics. He said the refurbished Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, built originally for 1982 Asian Games, was comparable to the best in the world.

Pointing out that corruption was an integral part of every administration, including the sports administration, anywhere in the world, Mr. Mohan said in the case of CWG, the alleged high quantum of funds leakage, non-completion of infrastructural facilities in time, put India in a bad light. Mr. Mohan also referred to other avoidable controversies like the Organising Committee seeking to hide India’s poverty behind bamboo screens en route to the Games Village and various venues that foreign visitors frequented. "South Africa did not try to hide the poverty in the country while organising the football World Cup," he pointed out. There were also issues pertaining to child labour, he recalled.

Mr. Mohan suggested that India should follow a model of combining both foreign and Indian coaches as  per the requirement to improve our sporting talent to world class level. He pointed out that both foreign coaches, as in the case of cricket and track events, and Indian coaches, as in wrestling and weightlifting, could do wonders.

As for finding finances for supporting their training in a sustained way, Mr. Mohan said that, like the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), other sporting bodies should throw open television rights to competitive bidding. He recalled that the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in the US paid one billion dollars to the organisers of every Olympics.

In the case of India, television rights has made not only the cricket board richer, the benefits have percolated down to players down the line, in the form of better compensation for participating in the State and regional-level tournaments. The Government and other beneficiaries too should think in terms of protecting and promoting the financial security of those who did not score medals but were very promising and successful otherwise. "Giving free houses and cash rewards to Indian winners is laudable, but very often, it does leave others in the lurch," he observed. In this context, he also mentioned that non-cricketing talents in the country required not only sponsorship but also media support.

Coming back to the theme of whether India can host Olympics, Mr. Mohan pointed out that bidding for Olympics is not so easy. He said for hosting the Olympics from 2020 onwards -- London hosts the Olympics in 2012 – countries like Russia and Japan have already prepared their blueprints and are ready to put their case before the International Olympic Committee. They have also started developmental works associated with the Olympics, he said, while India  continues to be a slow-starter even here. So, India could hope to compete for hosting the Olympics from around 2030, Mr. Mohan said.

(This report is prepared by Shahank Singh, II MA (Applied History), Loyola College, Chennai)
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