(ATR) India's sports minister appears to have ruled out a bid for the 2032 Olympics.
Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange on Tuesday, Rathore said the government "does not foresee us hosting big tournaments in the immediate future".
He said the focus would not be on building "mammoth stadiums" for mega-events like the Olympics but on developing sporting infrastructure for lower level and grassroots sport.
In India, there has been long been speculation that the nation might gear up for a tilt at the 2032 Games after the difficult fall-out from the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Indian sports authorities have struggled to rebuild their image following the corruption, construction delays and poor ticket sales that marred those Games.
Rathore’s comments come ahead of IOC president Thomas Bach’s visit to India in April. Bach is expected to encourage the government and Indian Olympic Association to invest more in sports infrastructure to lay the foundations for possible bids for the Asian Games and the Olympics.
India has not hosted the Asian Games since 1982.
Rathore's remarks are at odds with those of Narinder Batra who on his election as Indian Olympic Association president in Decembersuggested India could host an Asian Games, Commonwealth Games or Olympics by 2030.
Government leaders last year began feasibility studies to see if India could host the 2032 Olympics.
However, Rathore believes those Games will come too soon. "The bottom line needs to be what good is that tournament going to be for our country. Is it going to be beneficial for us?" he was quoted by the newspaper. "Right now we don’t foresee us hosting big tournaments in the immediate future."
He admitted that the 2010 Commonwealth Games corruption scandal had tarnished the government's approach to major sporting events.
"I don’t know if I would call it scarring, but we need to be always aware of this fact, irrespective of how many years we are down the line from the Commonwealth Games. I think there also should not be any fear in stepping out of the box and doing some new things which are for the benefit of the people," he was quoted as saying.
With the IOC last year awarding the 2024 and 2028 Olympics to Paris and Los Angeles respectively, India has plenty of time to consider whether to bid for the 2032 Games. Australia has already expressed interest in bidding for those Olympics. The IOC won't announce the host city until 2025.
Commonwealth Games Warning for India
India’s anti-doping policies may also come under scrutiny when Bach holds talks with the country’s Olympic committee later this month. Indian sport was in the headlines for the wrong reasons on Tuesday after a breach of the Commonwealth Games ‘no needle’ policy.
Syringes were reportedly found near the Indian team’s accommodation at the athletes’ village at the weekend. The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games open on Wednesday.
Amol Patil, a doctor supporting India’s boxing team, was issued with a "strongly written reprimand" by the CGF after confirmation that he "administered a vitamin B complex, by injection, to an athlete that was feeling unwell".
"The Federation Court found that there was a breach of paragraphs I and II of the no needle policy in that the doctor left needles in the room while he went to the polyclinic to obtain sharp bins for the disposal of the needles," the Commonwealth Games Federation said in a statement.
"Under the no needle policy, needles are required to be stored in a central secured location, access to which is restricted to authorized medical personnel of the CGA delegation. The needles in question were not disposed of until he had made two trips to the polyclinic."
The Indian team of athletes and officials is 327-strong but includes only two doctors.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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