OPINION: New Game
NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - Given that India has for the first time let it be official that it is trying to host an Olympic Games, targeting 2032, it is not out of place to remind ourselves that we won but two medals in Rio two years ago.
Badminton’s PV Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik pulled it off, but assorted failures came to be rued simultaneously.
If history is looked at, Indian sportspersons have brought home only 28 Olympic medals since 1900, with one individual gold. These are dismal statistics. So dismal that, juxtaposed with these, India’s hosting aspirations simply do not cohere.
The two other countries that too are said to be in the race ~ Australia and Germany ~ have organised the quadrennial showpiece event previously amid worldwide approval, if not acclaim. But India would not have blabbed if it had not been patted on the back by the International Olympic Committee, which would always be happy if the contest found new entrants.
Its name has long been mud not just because of the corruption it is known to be mired in, but also because the world seems to have arrived at a condemnatory, consensual judgment on how shabbily the World Anti-Doping Agency, an adjunct, has gone about its business.
If Wada’s dealings with Russia, where a meticulously planned, state-sponsored doping programme is said to have long been in existence, evokes any curiosity now, it centres on people’s desire to know how bad things can get. There is a credibility crisis, with winners galore in previous editions having been stripped of their medals after more recent analyses of their samples.
Worst of all, for the IOC and national Olympic committees, interest in holding the Games has plummeted significantly for two reasons. First, virtually every discipline, including the ones India would hope to do well in, now has its world championships, where the competition is often just as keen as in the Olympics.
Secondly, the huge amounts of money routinely invested in the elaborate, everexpanding Olympics in hopes of spectacular returns in due course, including by way of tourism, have for some time come to be looked upon as a waste: a deep and wide chasm separates reality from Eastmancolor dreams.
Facilities created for these extravaganzas at great expense find no users once the show is over, with the media pointing out the white elephants regularly, unforgivingly. In India, of course, such criticisms will hardly be taken note of, considering the high and mighty ones up top will harp on the prestige-of-the-country theme, to be welcomed with lusty table-thumping across the country.
Neither will it matter a lot to us that the money that could be put into elementary training would be consumed by a pretentious, grandiose Olympian project that might not be Indian sport’s chief requirement right now.