New Delhi: This could be Narendra Modi's style of saying 'thank you' to the state that gave him mammoth name and fame to become the Prime Minister of India. If top sports ministry sources are to be believed, India has set its sights on hosting the 2024 Olympic games at Ahmedabad.
Sources told dna that a plan in this regard is already in the final phase and it would be presented first to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, who is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi later this month on a two-day visit.
"Mr Bach is scheduled to meet our PM also during his visit," a source said.
If formalised, this could put India among the top sporting nations. This would also certainly help the Modi-led NDA government to demonstrate its organising capabilities and restore India's scandal-ridden image, post the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
dna has learnt that though the dates of the meetings have not been worked out till date, there has not been any doubt that the key focus area between the PM and the IOC president would be around hosting the 2024 Games.
Has the govt taken any first step?
Sources say sports secretary Ajit Mohan Sharan has already taken the first step by holding discussions with key IOC officials in Lausanne, Switzerland, during his visit last week. It was Sharan who invited Bach to visit India in April. On his return, the sports secretary is believed to have submitted a report to sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal, briefing him about the meeting.
What role is IOA playing?
Only recently key officials of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), including life president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, a key BJP leader, met Modi and requested him to look at the sporting scenario in India with utmost priority. "The PM assured the delegation that he is keen to make India a major sporting powerhouse. He has promised further discussions," Malhotra told dna a few days back.
What are ministry officials saying?
The top brass of the ministry is tight-lipped about the recent developments. Even top IOA officials are showing ignorance. Brazilian city Rio de Janerio will host the Games in 2016, while Japan's capital Tokyo has got the rights for the 2020 Summer Games.
When will bidding start?
India has time till September 15, 2015, to bid for the 2024 Olympics and the process to send the 'Expression of Interest' has already started in January this year.
It has been learnt that Italy's Rome, Germany's Hamburg and US' Boston have already expressed their desire to the IOC to host the 2024 Games. as Kenya's Nairobi, Morocco's Casablanca, Qatar's Doha, France's capital Paris and Russia's St Petersburg are likely to join the race in the coming months.
What happens after bids are received?
The IOC will then host an 'information seminar' for applicant-cities in Lusanne between October 7 and 9. The interested cities will have to submit 'Application Files and Guarantee Letters' from their respective governments to the IOC latest by January 2016. Once IOC's Working Group Meeting will assess the applications, which also include a video conferencing with each city, by March 2016, the IOC Executive Board will announce the shortlisted cities around May 2016.
When will the final announcement be made?
These cities will finally submit a presentation to the IOC session, informing it about their preparedness by July 2017. The final announcement will then be made during the 130th IOC Session in Lima, Peru, on September 15, 2017.
The time interestingly coincides with the next assembly election in Gujarat.