The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has submitted a formal expression of interest to bid for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is now set to approach the Government for support.
IOA President Narinder Batra claimed in April that India would bid for the event as well as the 2026 Summer Youth Olympic Games and the 2030 Asian Games.
He made the revelation at a joint press conference with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during the German’s visit to India.
Bach swiftly played down the claims from Batra, telling him it was “not the time to discuss in detail about future candidates”.
But IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta has told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that the body is “dead serious” about the bid.
Mehta had a meeting with a three-member committee from the IOC led by the head of bid city relations, Jacqueline Barrett, during the recent IOC Executive Board meeting in Tokyo.
“So, we have already submitted to the IOC the letter expressing our interest in hosting 2032 Olympic Games,” he said.
“I had a meeting with the Bid Committee of the IOC.
“They welcomed the move and said that India should have hosted an Olympic Games much earlier.”
India has never hosted any Olympic event but did stage the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, an event overshadowed by poor preparations, financial mis-management and widespread claims of corruption.
Bach recommended that the country postpone its plans to enter the race for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics when he last visited India in 2015, still thought to mark the only occasion where he has publicly discouraged a bid since taking office.
This is the first time the IOA has officially submitted an expression of interest.
New Delhi and Mumbai are the two cities the body has in mind, but according to the PTI, others are not being ruled out.
“At the first stage, a country expresses its interest to bid for the Olympics and at a later stage the proposed host city or cities is mentioned in the bid,” Mehta said.
“India has not bid or expressed interest to host Olympic Games earlier.”
A resolution to formally approach the Government to back the bid is expected to be passed at the IOA’s General Body Meeting (GBM) on December 22.
“We are going to approach the Government to back the bid after our GBM passes a resolution to that effect,” Mehta added.
“The bidding process will start in 2022 but before that, we have to get the nod from the Central Government that it will back the bid.
“We have to get the letter of backing from the Central Government, from the State Government where the proposed venue is located and even from the leader of the opposition party.
“We also have to get a lot of guarantees from various Government agencies.
“But all these will start only if the Government says it will back such a bid.”
India’s Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore admitted that the Ministry has been muted in its response so far.
Rathore, who also met with Bach in April, had previously appeared to rule out an Indian bid.
“On the part of IOA, we are all prepared to start working for the bid process,” he told the PTI.
“We will do what we can do and the rest is up to the Government.
“China has hosted Summer Olympics and is going to host Winter Olympics in 2022.
“If South Korea is hosting Olympics, why can’t India?
“We are a big country, an emerging economic superpower.”
Last month, authorities in Shanghai confirmed they have ordered a feasibility study on hosting the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics but insist it has no bearing on whether they will launch a bid.
While Shanghai has looked to distance itself from submitting a formal bid, many other cities across the world have shown an eagerness to enter the race for the Games in 2032.
In October, Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates met with Bach to say a bid from Brisbane should be considered a “serious proposition”.
Elsewhere, amid the continuing easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula, the North and South agreed to confirm their intention to bid to the IOC.
Indonesia has already submitted a formal proposal after Jakarta and Palembang hosted this year’s Asian Games, while a 13-city German proposal has also been tipped.
The 2032 Games are currently due to be awarded in 2025.