Post-pandemic aspirations of year past?


While the world at large is worried about the war on coronavirus, the Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra has been thinking, not just out of the box but off the box, with India serious about bidding for the 2026 Youth Olympics and 2032 Olympics.

However, when The Free Press Journal tried to contact the IOA chief, he refused to comment on the issue, saying he had said that last year, and there was nothing as of now.

"This is something which was said last year and nothing has been said as of today," Batra told this paper on Saturday.

When asked why was a section of the media quoting him on Saturday, in the midst of the lockdown, he retorted, "I am nobody to question reporters but all this happened last year."

"I am in a meeting and will call later," he signed off.

Batra reportedly told the AFP, India would step up its battle to win the bid for the 2032 Olympic Games and other international events when the coronavirus pandemic eases.

Although the IOA would like to forget all that happened when India hosted the Commonwealth Games, Batra said his country had lessons to learn but would not be deterred.

"We are serious and definitely pitching for the 2026 Youth Olympic Games and the 2032 Olympics," he was quoted as saying on Friday.

India has already made expressions of interest to the International Olympic Committee but reportedly, faces competition from Thailand, Russia, and Colombia for the 2026 event.

Queensland in Australia, Shanghai, and a potential joint bid by Seoul and Pyongyang are also being touted for the 2032 Olympics.

However, the pandemic has halted all debate. Batra, also head of the International Hockey Federation, said "documentation" has started for 2032 but work is now frozen. A final decision may take until 2025.

"Now there is a team that visits the various venues and you keep talking to them and then they submit a report. It is a continuous process which I believe will see no activity until December," India's most influential sports leader said.

Delhi's hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games was marked by construction delays, failing infrastructure and accusations of financial mismanagement.

"This is not the time to talk with business houses or the government about pitching for the Olympics. The first thing should be how we sort out this problem which has come into the world," Batra added, referring to the virus.

More recently, Delhi was stripped of the hosting rights to the 2021 world boxing championships, with the global body accusing the organisers of failing to pay a hosting fee on time, and Batra seems to be ignorant about the boxing dispute.

"I can say the biggest takeaway was that India is capable of hosting all big-ticket events, whether it is the Olympics or any other Games," said Batra.

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