The 141st IOC (International Olympic Committee) Session was held in Mumbai from October 15 to 17 which had two major talking points - the inclusion of five new sports including cricket for the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing that India intends to bit for the 2036 edition.
Nihit Sachdeva and Jonathan Selvaraj discuss the session in detail on the Sportstar Podcast.
Nihit - They mentioned Virat Kohli being one of the major inspirations behind cricket making it to the Olympics. But realistically, do you see Kohli making it to 2028 Olympics?
Jon - The reason they put a picture of Kohli in their campaign is because Kohli is one of the most followed athletes on social media. I believe he is the third most followed athlete on social media. And of course, the IOC wants a piece of that. The IOC gets a piece of Kohli and they assume that Kohli will want the prestige of an Olympic medal. But at the same time, you are right. Obviously, it’s five years from now. There’s no guarantee. It’s unlikely that he’ll be in the Indian team at that point of time, but the perception is that there will be other members of the Indian team who will be as popular on social media as Kohli, and there are many young players who are growing in popularity.
Nihit - Possibly Shubman Gill?
Jon - There’s one other thing the IOC has made very clear is that they want these big stars taking part at the Olympics because there’s a point of getting into the Olympics and then, having like something like the Indian B-string team which went to the Asian Games. That’s not what they want. The reason why they’re opening the doors of the Olympics to cricket is so that they can get some of the social media clout and the popularity that cricket generates.
Nihit - One more major thing that happened. It actually happened before the session started. During the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India intends to bid for the 2036 Olympics. He didn’t mention which city but he said India intends to bid for the 2036 Summer Olympics and before that the Youth Olympics in 2029. What is the basic requirement for a country to host the event of the stature of the Olympics. And do you think India is ready for such a such a massive event? Does India have the infrastructure and if not, then can India build that sort of infrastructure in 13 years?
Jon - It’s a combination of several things. One of the ways the IOC is now determining which country hosts the Olympics is that they don’t want you to build all that infrastructure. If you see all the countries which are hosting the Olympics right now, Paris had 95% of its infrastructure ready already before they even got the Olympic bid. Los Angeles hasn’t built anything new for the Olympics. Although it’s not been known, it is sort of presumed that Ahmedabad will be the city where they want the Olympics to be held in 2036.
Ahmedabad is already building a lot of stuff, and they’ve been building it for a while now. It is one of the reasons why some of the biggest money in expenditure for sports in India is going to Gujarat in the last few years. At the same time, there are a lot of things that you need to get fulfilled to get an Olympic bid. It is not just constructing a lot of stadiums. They also look at the weather - when they’re hosting it, what’s the transportation like? Whether you can have multiple events over there, because Ahmedabad is a landlocked city, it’s not on the coast. You’ll have to see where do you host all the water based events like sailing. Hosting the Olympics are extremely prized and a lot of countries come up in a big way. Already, Turkey has expressed interest. Warsaw and Poland have expressed interest. Group of cities in Mexico have pitched for it. Apparently there’s double digit number of countries which have pitched for it. So just because India’s pitched for it doesn’t mean you get it. A lot of stuff has to be figured out in the Indian Olympic Association.
Listen to the full episode for more.
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