I was a kid not even a teenager but, I fondly remember the 1982 Asian Games. It was the ninth edition of the event hosted by New Delhi during Nov-Dec 1982. What a mega hit show it was!
It had become a craze from the word go. The baby elephant “Appu” which was mascot of the game became immensely popular. People named their new-borns Appu! The song, La, La, Lappu, mera naam hai Appu was a chart buster.
The games catapulted Delhi into a new generation city. It got world class stadiums and a huge overall infrastructure boost. It was literally a showcase for Indira Gandhi after recapturing power in 1980. She gloated of its success and she had a stellar performance to back her claim. India had watched it telecast live on color TV for the first time.
The Congress government under Indira Gandhi made its intention clear that India would next bid for the 1992 Olympics (by 1982, venue for 1984 and 1988 Olympic had already been decided).
Sports freaks like me started daydreaming of watching Olympics on Indian soil, of seeing legendary palyers in action and cheering them from the sidelines. But, Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her body guards within two years in 1984, plunging India into a political and then, economic turmoil.
With her it seemed went India’s Olympics hosting dreams. India never bid for Olympics though six more editions have taken place since 1992.
In 2020 it would be hosted in Tokyo. Just recently, the venues for 2024 and 2028 editions were sealed for Paris and Los Angeles. So, the dream which Indira Gandhi showed us would not turn into reality for at least another half a century.
Now, after three-and-a-half decades, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu has mooted the idea once again. Last year, Naidu pitched for the upcoming state capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati for hosting the Olympics in India.
It is not just that being an Indian I want this to happen but, it is a pure unbiased opinion. India deserves to host this spectacle. As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, the second most populous country on the globe, a vibrant and thriving economy, which according to the IMF chief, Christine Lagarde is the lone “bright spot’’ in an otherwise gloomy world scene. In PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), India stands at 3rd position behind China and USA. I think it is time.
Among other Asian countries, Japan, South Korea and China have already hosted the event. In 2020, Japan will be hosting the Olympics for a second time (1960 was the first time for Japan). So, being one of the most prominent Asian countries, India should now throw its hat in the ring.
But, this does not tell the whole story of why not. India’s last tryst with multi-event global sports carnival was the ill-fated, 2010 Commonwealth Games. Though in the end, the games were completed without any major goof-up but, the way things were planned and executed during the run-up to this event, had put a serious question mark on India’s ability to handle mega events.
It is worthwhile to mention here that in terms of scale and opulence, Commonwealth Game stands nowhere in comparison to the Olympics. At Rio in 2016, 207 nations and more than 11000 athletes competed for 306 events in 28 sports. Around half a million foreign tourist came to Rio during this time in August lst year. These figures would go up significantly by the thirties decade.
In comparison, during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, there were 71 nations with 6,000 athletes. At best, India can host Olympic in 2032 or beyond. By then, the scale and magnitude of event would be at least four times what was handled in 2010 during Commonwealth Games.
Of all the current Indian cities, Delhi is best equipped to handle such a mega event, but it may still not be good enough for the Olympics. Commonwealth Game in 2010 was perhaps the maximum, that Delhi can withstand.
What Chandrababu Naidu expressed went by and large unnoticed but the upcoming capital of Andhra Pradesh offers best chance for India to host this mega event. With Chandrababu Naidu at the helm and overseeing the development work of Amaravati, it is set to become one of the most beautiful and advanced cities in India.
Naidu is ambitious, a visionary and a sports lover to boot. His stamp would definitely reflect in the city of Amaravati.
Normally Olympic rotates through continents. Asia hosted Olympic in 1988 (Seoul) and then in 2008 (Beijing). It is coming back to Asia in 2020 and then will go to Europe in 2024 (Paris), to North America in 2028 (Los Angeles) and thus, Asia can claim the game back during the onset of decade of thirties and Amaravati (India) can be the host city.
Though many would frown on the idea and may have scepticism but it is still 15 years to go. Indian economy is growing with 7-8% per annum. Above all, we are evolving as a nation and a society. India thus needs to go for this mega event, which it truly deserves to host. There is still no buzz and the idea as on dates looks more like a dream. But then, only dreams have the power to become reality. Here’s to dreaming! Here’s to Olympics in India!