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EXPLAINED: CM Kejriwal Wants Delhi To Host Olympics. Here's What That Will Take

Bidding for an Olympic Games can be complicated though the IOC has sought to reforms the process

Bidding for an Olympic Games can be complicated though the IOC has sought to reforms the process

An Olympic Games brings the focus of the world on city hosting it. But landing the chance to stage the spectacle involves a long-winding process and large costs

Unveiling plans to transform Delhi and turn it into the “No.1 city in the world" by 2047, when India celebrates 100 years of Independence, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said that a key component of this initiative would be to get the national capital to host the Olympic Games in 2048. The games are the world’s biggest sporting spectacle and hosting it requires years of planning and massive investments in infrastructure. Here’s what Delhi has to keep in mind.

How Is The Host City For Olympics Chosen?

Hosting the Summer Olympics has conventionally been seen as being a costly and complicated process that requires years of planning. So much so that, the Economist says, “the rush of interested cities has slowed to a trickle". That has seen the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the custodian of the Olympic Movement, ring in important changes that have done away with the need for cities to put together costly bids and competing directly with other candidate cities.

In 2014, it adopted the ‘Olympic Agenda 2020‘ that had as its central focus “increasing sustainability and legacies" of host cities. The key idea was to address the issue of high costs that cities incurred while trying to outbid each other. The changes were also aimed at preventing any malpractices arising out of “aggressive lobbying" as IOC noted how some cities found it “challenging to secure government/private and public support and pulled out of the process".

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So, now, the changes have shaped the “bidding process as an invitation" which, The Economist says, sees cities being “no longer forced to put together proposals costing tens of millions of dollars".

The Australian city of Brisbane, which was named as the host of the 2032 Summer Games at the beginning of the Tokyo Olympics, was the “first ‘Preferred Host’ under the IOC’s new approach to host city elections", with IOC chief Thomas Bach saying that the reforms now “encourage Olympic projects which use a high percentage of existing and temporary venues, which align with long-term development plans, and which have a strong vision for sports and local communities". All this could just mean that New Delhi may find it easier than any time before to offer its name as a host for the Games.

When Does The Process Begin To Identify A Host City?

The process of identifying host city begins 10-11 years before the designated Games are to be held. The “new, streamlined approach to future host elections" that was put in place in 2019 has seen IOC create two Future Host Commissions — one each for the Summer and Winter Games — with which any city seeking to host the Olympics can enter into “non-committal continuous dialogue".

There are three levels of discussion. A host city aspirant first opens an ‘Informal Dialogue’ with IOC, which also uses this stage “to target a potential host if deemed beneficial to the Olympic Movement". This engagement is not “edition-specific" and “strict timelines and deadlines of the past no longer exist".

When the IOC’s Executive Board (EB) invites one or more Preferred Host(s) to enter into detailed discussions, such candidates are said to have entered the stage of ‘Targeted Dialogue’, which pursues proposals to host a specific edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Targeted Dialogue phase can continue up to a year.

The Preferred Host(s) then make a final submission, which paves the way for the EB to “decide whether to recommend one or more Preferred Host(s) for election by the IOC Session". The host city is finally chosen by the IOC Session via a majority vote.

But once host is named, under the new rules, it does not close out the candidature of the other interested cities and they can remain in ‘Continuous Dialogue’ with the Future Host Commissions to explore hosting a future Olympics.

So, if Delhi wants to host the 2048 Games, it should be readying its bid by the mid 2030s, which is a little more than a decade from now. The national capital, and cities like Ahmedabad and Mumbai have in the past expressed an interest to host an Olympics, but none could manage to go very far with such plans.

How Much Does It Cost?

A 2020 paper by an Oxford economist concluded that the average cost of just putting together the sports-related aspects of an Olympic Games runs to $12 billion and that “every Olympics since 1960 has run over budget, at an average of 172 per cent in real terms". That means the Olympics have the “highest overrun on record for any type of megaproject".

A case in point is the Tokyo Games itself. Initially estimated to cost $7.3 billion, various estimates now peg the total cost incurred on the Games at anything between $12-$30 billion, making it the costliest Olympics to have ever been staged. Similarly, the 2012 London Olympics ended up costing more than $10 billion from an initial estimate of under $4 billion.

In fact, the major point behind IOC reforming the bidding process is the increasing reluctance of cities to offer to host the Games.

Economists say that while the Games are supposed to bring in big revenues and international exposure for the host city, they rarely offset the costs of organising the spectacle. Even if the investment in transportation and communication infrastructure proves cost-effective in the long run, cities struggle to find use for the special venues, housing, etc. created for an Olympics.

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first published:August 04, 2021, 15:10 IST