MUMBAI: India is interested in hosting the Olympic Games in 2036, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday at the opening ceremony of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Mumbai.

The country has never hosted the Olympics bef­ore, but in 2010 Delhi hosted the Commonwealth Games.

“India will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to organise the Olympics in India in 2036. This is the age-old dream of 140 crore [1.4 billion] Indians, it is their aspiration,” Modi said. “We want to realise this dream with your collaboration and support… I am confident that India will get the support of the IOC.”

India is among several nations eyeing future Gam­es, with Paris set to host the 2024 summer Oly­mpics and Los Angeles picked for the 2028 Games. Brisbane, Australia, will stage the 2032 Olympics.

India is a growing sports power, having finished fourth in the Asian Games this month, with a national record of 28 golds, and more than 100 medals overall.

The country also won seven medals, including one gold, at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the nation’s record haul.

Cricket, the most popular sport in India, was also picked this week along with four other sports to be included in the 2028 Olympics.

Last month, Polish President Andrzej Duda said his country was hopeful of organising the 2036 Olympics, while Indonesia and Mexico are also expected to bid to host sport’s biggest event.

Modi also said India would look to host the Youth Olympics in 2029.

“Sport is not just about winning medals but also winning hearts,” he said.

Modi did not mention which city would apply to host the Olympics. But media reports have speculated that Ahmedabad, capital of his home state of Gujarat, was the most likely city to bid.

Ahmedabad is home to Narendra Modi Stadium, named for the prime minister and with 132,000 seats, the world’s largest sporting venue by capacity.

The formal announcement comes just two months after sports minister Anurag Thakur said India was now home to “top global infrastructure” that left it ready to stage the Olympics.

“There should be no question about India’s competence,” The Hindu newspaper quoted Thakur as saying.

India this year held the presidency of the G20 and was roundly praised for its smooth hosting of the world’s most powerful leaders.

Modi said Saturday that the G20 summit’s success was proof that the country was ready to put on “mega global events”.

But India has struggled to stage large-scale sporting competitions in the past.

New Delhi’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2010 was marked by construction delays, substandard infrastructure and accusations of financial mismanagement and corruption.

India is currently hosting the Cricket World Cup, and was criticised for a delay in announcing the tournament fixture until three months before it began.

The schedule was suddenly overhauled a few weeks after it was first published with some of the biggest matches rescheduled.

Fans have meanwhile complained about online ticketing crashes, and matches not featuring the hosts have been sparsely attended.

Modi’s announcement came just moments after India beat Pakistan in the World Cup’s most anticipated fixture.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2023

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