Yet another Olympics comes to an end and one realizes that the largest democracy in the world is yet to host one. India got Independence in 1947 and even in 2016 doesn’t look like hosting an Olympics any time soon.
India is one of the oldest existing countries in the world, and was around in some form when the Ancient Olympics began in the Before Common Era (BCE). We are number two in population and the seventh largest by size. Most of the major countries have hosted the Olympics once at least.
But there are many reasons why India should host the Olympics…
1. Imagine a New Delhi 3.0: India got Independence in 1947 and in 1951 we hosted the first Asian Games. We stumbled and delayed the games by a year, but it really helped a new capital city get a foothold in connecting with other countries.
But the real upgrade happened in the 1982 Asiads. New roads were built, an Asiad village came up and Maharashtra used the Olympic coaches for a unique “Asiad bus service”. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that was constructed then is a hit well into 2016.
The Siri Fort area used to be a swampy ground and was transformed as the capital got a taste of flyovers thanks to the infrastructure upgrade that took place for the games. There was even an increase in the number of phones in the city.
Doordarshan was relaunched with a record number of TV sets being bought all over India to watch the games. Entertainment serials mushroomed a few years later and that eventually led to the satellite TV revolution.
The second New Delhi upgrade took place during the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Here also we had new roads, flyovers, power augmentation, another Games Village, Delhi Metro work speedup and an upgrade of Indira Gandhi International Airport.
One can only imagine what a third upgrade will do to New Delhi if and when it hosts the Olympics.
2. The Olympics is big business and we are ready to capitalize: It’s not just the infrastructure of New Delhi that will get a boost. The Rio Olympics took place in 4 other Brazilian cities and all of them got business too.
Olympics are multi-billion dollar affairs. There are mega sponsorships related to various sports and games. The tourism industry also gets a fillip. Millions of people visit a country for an Olympics and they will also visit other cities and give a boost to the tourism and hospitality industry.
India is developing at a fast pace and is poised to take economic and business advantage from mega events like the Olympics. It is also a big brand building exercise for any country.
3. The home advantage for our sportspersons: Expect a huge boost in the medals tally if India hosts the Olympics. That’s always the case with any home country. Brazil came out with its best ever performance of 7 golds and 19 total medals at Rio.
But the best example is South Korea. From 1948 to the 1976 Olympics it got a total of only one Gold medal. They became serious about hosting the Olympics after that and won 6 in 1984. When they finally hosted it in 1988, they doubled that tally and have maintained or neared that in most Olympics since then.
India is really short of Olympic medals and hosting them will be a golden chance to get a record tally for India and upping the game for subsequent Olympics.
4. A big step in becoming a sporting nation: It is desirable to become a big sporting nation. It is very important for school and college students to participate in sports for character building and physical fitness. You can’t just focus on academics. You can attract the youth for all games only if we are doing well in all the games.
The business of sports is also big and it forms a big part of both the sponsorship and entertainment industries. There is too much focus on cricket in India. It is time we broadened the horizon. The Olympics cover a huge number of sporting events and it will give a fillip to all of them.
Bagging the Olympics may also lead us to host other international tournaments like the FIFA World Cup. Who knows? For example the Rio badminton final featuring PV Sindhu may have been the most watched Indian badminton match of all time!
5. We can introduce sports like cricket and kabaddi: There was no way Tests could be introduced into the Olympics and even ODIs would have been difficult. T20s are a different case altogether.
If India hosts the Olympics then we could include T20s too and maybe even something like kabaddi and kho kho. At worst, all these can be introduced as exhibition games.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics (again!) and India has already ruled itself out of the bidding process for the 2024 games. It is high time we launched a Mission 2028. Olympics are usually really long-term projects.
We should start campaigning for the 2028 Olympics immediately and hope to bag them in 2021 when the vote takes place. That will give us seven years to transform the sporting infrastructure of the country.
It is amazing that a country of one billion plus has such little sporting achievements and hosting an Olympics will go a long way in rectifying that.