Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Will IOA act tough on Goa hosting 36th National Games?

Will IOA act tough on Goa hosting 36th National Games?

Suhrid Barua

Published: 30 July 2019 7:11 AM GMT
National Games is undoubtedly our biggest domestic multi-sport event – so much of pride is attached to these Games, which are touted as nothing short of a ‘National Olympics’ for athletes from every nook and corner, who work tirelessly to make a ‘big impression’ as they see it as their ‘first big’ step’ towards a flourishing sporting career. One can’t help but feel that the stature of the National Games has taken a ‘big hit’ over the last decade or so, thanks to our concerned officials, who haven’t quite exuded the ‘desired official will’ and ‘required proactiveness’ to make the ‘National Games movement’ a smooth and successful journey.
SPM Stadium , Teleigao

The saga of delay

Fast-forward to all uncertainties surrounding Goa hosting the 36th National Games this year and you will feel ‘sorry’ for all the upcoming, as well as the established athletes, who have been waiting for years to make a name on this big domestic stage. Let’s try and understand how the Goa government has been walking down the ‘procrastination’ path ever since it won the hosting rights in 2008 to hold the multi-sport event in 2011. Of course, Goa alone cannot take all the blame for the event getting delayed by eight years now – this is simply because the preceding National Games allotted to Kerala (35th edition) and Jharkhand (36th edition) also endured similar multiple delays. The 35th National Games to be hosted by Kerala was originally scheduled to be held on December 2012 and was subsequently put off to 2013 – the postponement spree continued as it was further scheduled for February 2014 and finally, the multi-sport event was held from January 31 to February 14, 2015. Jharkhand – who won the hosting rights of the 34th National Games – also had to navigate through a ‘delay’ route. The event was allotted to them in 2002 and it was slated to be held in 2007, which never saw the light of the day – four years lapsed before the 34th National Games was finally held at Jharkhand from February 12-26, 2011. The timing of the 34th National Games also came under the scanner as it clashed with the 2011 ICC World Cup Cricket. One could see a trend in the hosting of the National Games in the last few editions of desired administrative excellence holding sway. Clearly, the delays in hosting of 35th and 34th National Games in Kerala and Jharkhand made one thing crystal clear - there was no way that Goa could host the National Games in 2011 (as originally scheduled). The procrastination of the 34th and 35th National Games meant that Goa could only host the 36th National Games not any time before 2016. But the roadblocks were far too many and Goa followed the ‘delay’ road of Kerala and Jharkhand. In September 2017, it was announced that Goa would host the 36th National Games in November 2018, but the event was again put off to March-April 2019. The multi-sport event was postponed to November 2019 citing by-polls, general elections and school exams (since student volunteers – a must-have for the smooth conduct for an event of such magnitude – could not be engaged owing to their exams).
GMC Stadium , Bambolim Bitterness between IOA and Goa Government To be honest, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on its part, has been consistently playing the ball and agreed to the postponement of the event to November 2019. But seemingly cordial relations between the IOA and the Goa government gave way to bitterness when the Goa government sought another postponement of the event to early 2020 citing lack of adequate time to procure equipment, issue work tenders and get the infrastructure ready. This latest ‘postponement desire’ of the Goa government ruffled the feathers of the IOA, whose patience has been severely tested by now by the former’s frequent postponement requests. The IOA even imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore, which was later reworded as hosting right fee – an amount which was later reduced to Rs 6 crore after hectic negotiations between the two parties. One is not looking to pick holes at anyone but is only looking for answers as to why such a delay could have taken place. The Goa government has defended its ‘postponement move’ by stating that they had first written to the IOA in February 2019 to confirm the November 1-16 dates, followed by subsequent reminders Further, the Goa government also claimed that the IOA had been insisting on coughing up the Rs 6 crore hosting fee before they could confirm the dates of the event. It was only on July 22 the IOA approved the November 1-16 dates, which prompted the Goa government to announce that they won’t be able to host the 36th National Games in November 2019 with less than four months left for the scheduled event. The Goa authorities were clear that they will not be able to host the event in just three months’ time after the confirmation of dates. In fact, the relations between the IOA and the Goa government do not look cordial anymore – in fact, the words used in the latest letter to the IOA by Goa Sports Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar smacks of a tinge of rudeness leading to the IOA President Narinder Batra promptly asking the Goa government not to communicate with him directly, but only through the IOA secretary and others.
Indoor Stadium, Peddam

Move to 2020

Goa Olympic Association (GOA) secretary Gurudutta Bhakta said it the National Games cannot be held in November. “The Goa government has already made its stand clear. Procuring equipment over the next three months will not be possible for the event to be held in November.”
However, he harboured the hope that the 36th National Games can be conducted in 2020. “I know 2020 is an Olympic year, but I’m still hopeful the event can be held in early part of 2020.”
It appears like the IOA had enough of this ‘postponements’ from the Goan authorities and the latest stinging letter from the Goa Sports Minister to the IOA President was enough for the country’s apex Olympic body to shift the event out of Goa. If such a move is initiated, there is every likelihood that the 36th National Games will be moved to either Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand or Meghalaya. It may be worth recalling that Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Meghalaya had been earlier allotted in 2019, 2020 and 2022 National Games. The spate of postponements in hosting the 36th National Games is a telling blow for athletes, who look forward to performing in these events – one hopes that a better mechanism is devised and such delays for the National Games are a thing of the past. From the athletes’ perspective, it is imperative that the multi-sport event is held at the earliest. The National Games movement must be on a firm footing and not one shrouded with uncertainties and delays. India’s Olympic movement needs a big domestic push and that push can only when National Games are conducted by hosting states in a timely manner and is free from bureaucratic or administrative logjams.
Next Story