With deplorable sporting infrastructure, is 2036 Olympics the right dream for India?
Hosting a multi-sports event such as the Olympics would require a lot of revamping and restructuring of infrastructure.
Sports minister Anurag Thakur recently revealed that India is 'seriously' considering throwing its name in the hat for hosting the 2036 Olympics.
"India is looking very seriously at bidding for the 2036 Olympics," Thakur was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The western Indian state of Gujarat was pointed as a possible location to host the quadrennial event with the same even being mentioned in the election manifesto of the ruling BJP ahead of the polls in the state earlier this month.
This comes after India hosted the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup earlier in the year. While it was certainly a logistical success, the Indian eves crashed out of the tournament in the league stages without scoring a single goal and conceding 16.
However, hosting a multi-sporting event such as the Olympics would require a lot of revamping and restructuring of infrastructure in and around the country.
Yes, India has hosted Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in the past, but the Olympics is a different ball-game altogether.
With the idea of hosting an Olympics gathering steam, questions have begun to arise on India's ability to pull off an event of such big magnitude especially with the deplorable state of sporting infrastructure in the country currently.
Take the recently concluded 2022 National Games in Gujarat, for example. The athletics events were held in the premises of the much-famed IIT Gandhinagar, which shot to fame for all the wrong reasons.
The long jump pit for the event was so close to the boundary wall, that the organisers had to place cushions on the fencing to prevent athletes from getting injured.
The situation was no different for other sports. Lawn Bowls was played on a golf course, the venue for Triathlon had to be shifted to a place with swimming pool because hosting it in the open waters of the Sabarmati river was not possible owing to pollution.
Besides, a lot of the sports like boxing, wrestling, wushu, weightlifting and others were held inside a makeshift venue at Mahatma Mandir. While this is not new, problems are bound to arise mid-competitions in such venues - and it did while the legendary Mirabai Chanu was in action.
"We did not have a weightlifting appropriate arena. This led to damage in flooring of the existing building in the warmup area while Mirabai Chanu was competing. We solved it within a couple of minutes to ensure that nobody gets injured with this," a venue manager at Mahatma Mandir had disclosed to The Bridge in the sidelines of the National Games.
Major issues cropping up in makeshift venues is neither something novel, nor limited to just one state in particular.
In September last year, just after the highs of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the U23 Wrestling National Championships were held in an appalling state in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh with stagnant water all around the makeshift tent due to heavy rains the previous night.
"Feel sad for this velodrome track where I started my journey to become a Jr world champion in 2019," he tweeted by adding pictures and videos where the track seems old and lined with garbage.
Alban is considered to be one of India's brightest young prospects for winning a medal in the Olympics, but if the tracks aren't fit for usual training, it would seem that will remain a far thought.
Same goes for the thletics track at the Gachibowli stadium in Hyderabad, which is reportedly filled with craters.
The situation is no different at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi. It has not hosted a single track-and-field event in almost 4 years, thanks to the sinking of ground after a 'botched-up track relaying project', as per a report in The Indian Express.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has hosted the prestigious Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in the past and is regarded as a Class 1 facility by World Athletics.
With such scrappy sporting infrastructure in the country, the idea of hosting the world's greatest athletes in the Olympics certainly looks a bit over the top.
Should India not focus on giving the best of facilities to their own athletes before dreaming of hosting the Olympics?