India announces plan to host 2036 Olympics – what next?

On Saturday, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India would bid for the 2036 Olympics. While this could potentially be a milestone in Indian sports and the biggest multi-sporting event hosted by India since the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the process of hosting the Games is a multi-staged.

In contrast to the earlier process of inviting bids, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Future Host Commission identifies and proposes its preferred candidate to the Executive Board. The Executive Board can then enter targeted dialogue with the bidder before choosing whether or not to recommend a proposal for a vote at an IOC Session.

Brisbane 2032 became the first edition of the Summer Olympics awarded under this format, when it entered targeted dialogue with the IOC Executive Board in February last year, before having its hosting rights rubber-stamped at the 138th Session in Tokyo.

“We have a new process now. What would happen is, theoretically, the country has to come through the National Olympic Committee (NOC). They approach us and say we have an interest. And then the dialogue would be opened. While India made a high profile public announcement of it’s bid, it is not the only country to do so. Warsaw in Poland and Indonesia’s Nusnatara have already expressed interest while Guadalajara,Mexico City and Monterrey in Mexico have also confirmed they will make a bid,” says Mark Adams, head of media and communications, IOC.

However, Adams says there are likely to be more bidders. “It’s important to say, for 2036, there are more than 10 countries who have expressed interest. Not all of them have made a public bid,” he says.

Modi’s announcement will have to be followed by a letter of interest from the Indian Olympic Committee.

“You have to make a formal approach to us and you can start that anytime. The NOC is the one making (the formal approach). It happens a lot with all other countries. There’s a lot of people and politicians who typically want to own the projects. Until we get something officially from the NOC, it’s not happening,“ says Adams.

This is in contrast to past bids where cities would employ advisors to create bid documents which would then be presented to the IOC.

“We don’t want them to have to depend on advisors which would then make the bid process expensive. They can get into a conversation with us because we know more than these advisors. We can discuss with India which city is interested. Whereas in the past, we’d say here’s the rules. Do it. That’s not how it works anymore.

“What we are trying to do is construct a proposal together to help the interested party to build a good case to see if they can hold the games,“ Adams says.

One of the IOC’s key requirement is increasing sustainability which means expecting prospective hosts to make the most of existing facilities. “In Paris, 95 per cent of the venues are already in existence or temporary. In Los Angeles, everything is already there. They didn’t have to build a single thing,“ Adams says.

While this could be problematic in the case of Ahmedabad — the expected Indian host city — which is expected to create most of its facilities from scratch, Adams though says this doesn’t have to be the case.

“There’s nothing wrong in building new facilities if you have a good legacy plan. Paris has done so — they’re building a village and swimming pool. They’re saying they have a long term legacy for this, and we want this. So, if a city in India said they want to improve their sporting infrastructure, and they want to invest this money anyway, that won’t stop the bid. What we’re trying to do is find what works for your city, your region. And that will be different from your city in India, to Indonesia, to the US, “Adams says.

All this is expected to reduce the cost of hosting the Games significantly.

“The involvement of the IOC in this process should bring down the cost. The cost for Brisbane reduced by 80 per cent in the candidature phase. That money was earlier being spent on project planners, public affairs, public relations, videos. In the past, we put up a city against another city. So they would produce slick videos, book list to beat this one and we don’t need that anymore. We are not asking for that anymore. You want to talk to us, not to your competitors,“ Adams says.

A decision won’t come quickly. “We’ve always said a decision on 2036 will not be happening before the elections in 2025. So nothing is going to happen until 2025, but the dialogue is continuous,“ Adams says.


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