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Bidding for the 2036 Olympics - what are the procedures and challenges?

While hosting the Olympic Games has its benefits - it gives a boost to a country's sports culture and builds legacy, there are many concerns to address for India ahead of initiating the bidding process.

Bidding for the 2036 Olympics - what are the procedures and challenges?

FILE PHOTO: Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad lit up during the National Games in 2022.


Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 16 Oct 2023 1:43 PM GMT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the 141st Congress of the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board has finally ended the long speculation about India's bid for the 2036 Olympics.

"India is eager to host the Olympics in the country and will leave no stone unturned in the preparation for the successful organisation of the Olympics in 2036. This is the dream of the 140 crore Indians," PM Modi said while addressing the Congress in Mumbai with IOC president Thomas Bach in the audience.

As the head of the state expressed his interest in hosting the grandest sporting spectacle on the earth, it is a matter of time before India initiates the process of bidding for the Games.

PM Modi's expression of interest in hosting the Olympic Games, however, remains an unofficial utterance. To make an official bid, the Indian Olympic Association, the IOC-recognised National Olympic Committee in India, will have to take the matter up with the IOC.

India's bidding for the Olympics will not be easy, however. So far, more than ten countries have expressed interest in playing host to the 2036 Olympics.

The country that presented the most successful case - with robust infrastructure and hospitality facilities in place - won the bid previously. In 2019, the IOC took a different approach and determined the host through a 'targetted dialogue'. IOC handed the right to host the Games for the next three editions to countries it deemed suitable.

The host for the 2036 Olympics through this process will be known in the next couple of years.

Operational challenges, financial burden

While the country bidding for the Games gets a minimum of ten years to get the host city ready for the Olympics - Brisbane was chosen for the 2032 Olympics only in July 2021, for India, to deliver the biggest sporting event in the world, will be a massive operational challenge.

Before documenting the bidding process, India will have to find a city that has at least the bare minimum infrastructure to host multiple sports - having a gigantic stadium alone would not be enough. India is likely to present Ahmedabad as the venue for the Games, with the city possessing the world's largest cricket stadium, with a capacity to accommodate 132,000 spectators. The stadium also hosted the National Games in 2022 as a baby step towards a much bigger enterprise.

The IOC, on its part, is critical of a country's economic and sporting viability while choosing the host.

A country like India, which despite playing host to two Asian Games (1951 and 1982) and a Commonwealth Games (2010) in the past, will have to start from scratch unlike the hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics in Paris and Los Angeles, which already have inbuilt infrastructure and facilities to play host to different sports. All Paris needed before the next year's showpiece was to renovate a swimming facility and refurbish the architecture.

Japan National Stadium, the venue for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Hosting the Olympics takes a huge toll on a country's financial health - Greece went into economic turmoil after hosting the 2004 Olympics. Japan, which hosted the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021 after the Games were postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had to cope with a big financial burden, with its budget increasing to $15.4 million, which was more than double initially estimated.

But the biggest benefit for a country would be to give a makeover to a city while also building a legacy for sports. After the Games, how a country uses those facilities becomes key to its success in sports in the future. India will also look to gain on the diplomatic front by displaying its soft power and strengthening its position in the world order.

Given India's aspiration to make a mark in the Olympics and the Asian Games, it is evident that the country is on the right track. Since shooter Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, India's performance at quadrennial showpieces has witnessed an upward trajectory.

The most recent example is India's magnificent showing at the Hangzhou Asian Games, where the Indian athletes, aptly supported by the union and state governments, and the corporates, exceeded all expectations as they returned home with an overwhelming 107 medals - 37 more than its previous best of 70 in Jakarta Asiad in 2018.

While hosting the Olympic Games has its benefits - it gives a boost to a country's sports culture and builds legacy, there are other concerns to address for India ahead of initiating the bidding process.

India's experience with previous sports events does not boast any happiness or pride. The 2010 CWG, the last biggest multi-sport international event India has hosted, was plagued with controversies and scams that brought international bad press to India.

Moreover, Indian federations, suspended and criticised by their international counterparts often in the past, putting players' futures in danger, still lack professionalism and transparency in their running of administrations.

While India should be wary of such controversies, the government will also have to figure out how it should maintain the sports infrastructure post the Games. Sydney Olympic Stadium (2000) and Beijing National Stadium (2008) every year spend millions on maintenance of these stadiums.

India, too, will need an annual budget to keep them well-oiled. The more the plans are well-visioned, the more India will reap the benefits. Else, hosting the Olympics will only increase the financial burden on the country.

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