It makes more sense for IOC to give 2036 Olympics to India: Anurag Thakur


New Delhi: Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said on Sunday “it makes more sense for the IOC” to give India the hosting rights for the 2036 Olympic Games as the country is growing by leaps and bounds in every sphere including sports.

Thakur, while speaking at the News9 Global Summit, said India’s recent performance at mega international events, such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, gives him hope that the country could become a top-10 sporting nation by 2036 and be in the top-5 by 2047.

“We had the largest population to see the Olympic sports last time (in 2020 Tokyo) and this time, it makes more sense for the IOC to give 2036 Olympics to none other than Bharat, our India,” said Thakur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already expressed the country’s desire to host the Olympics in 2036 during the IOC session in Mumbai last year, and when asked if India was ready to hold the mega event and which city could play host, Thakur said, “PM Modi made it very clear during the IOC session that India is very serious to host the 2036 Summer Olympics, and before that we want to host the 2030 Youth Olympics. And, I have a reason to say so.

“If you look at India in the last 10 years, we have become the fifth-largest economy in the world. If you look at sector to sector, India is doing extremely well…economy-wise fifth largest, next five years, we are going to be the third largest.

“By 2036, the Indian economy would be much larger, sports infrastructure is also getting better and better with each passing day. We have 1.4 billion population, out of which 65 per cent is below 35. That is 1/6th of the total population of the world lives in India, so what could be a bigger market (for Olympics).

“Then, the target I have set for 2036, India will be among the top-10 medal winning countries, and (by) 2047, among the top-5 to win medals,” he said.

Thakur foresees Olympic disciplines too enjoying a huge following and compared it with where cricket was before the country won the World Cup for the first time and how massively things have changed now.

“If you look at 1983 (World Cup win), before that even in cricket we didn’t have enough money. When the team won the World Cup, even the BCCI didn’t have enough money to pay them (winning team players), or to celebrate in a big way.

“But when they (BCCI) fought the case against Prasar Bharati and won the case, that is where they won the telecast rights and the game changed. Then money came into cricket. That is how the BCCI have done well with their professional working in the last so many years.

“In the last 2-3 decades, we have seen so many cricketers doing well on the international stage. So, in cricket we had a lot of stars to look up to. And, today, in other sports too we have a lot of starts to look up to. I think the time has started when the country’s mindset has changed,” he added.

He said the government’s focus on creating sports infrastructure in the last 10 years and pumping in money gave him confidence.

“The sports budget has been increased three times in the last 10 years. We have spent 3,000 crores in creating 300 sports infrastructure. We have a lot of schemes for the benefit of players, so that they can perform better rather than worry about the facilities… how they can train, where to train, who will fund them. That is not their worry today, they all need to train hard and perform.

“That is why India has won 100-plus (107) medals in the Hangzhou Asian Games. At one time, a rickshaw-puller’s or a tea seller’s son used to worry how he will reach the top level in sports. After Khelo India and Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), boarding, lodging and training etc is taken care of and elite athletes get Rs six lakh pocket money as well.

“Besides, 3000 athletes are being funded by government in private academies so that they can train well and play for India. 23 National Centres of Excellence (NCOEs), 69 SAI centres and 1,075 Khelo India centres have been completed. That is the speed, size and scale we are working today,” he added, urging the state governments also to help.

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