NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is serious about hosting an Olympics but is not planning a late bid for the 2024 Summer Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Monday.
The German’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi fuelled speculation about a possible Indian bid for the 2024 Games.
“We were aware of this speculation and quite frankly, we were a little bit surprised because, for different reasons, we think it maybe a little bit too quick now for India to have a successful Olympic Games in 2024,” Bach told reporters.
Boston, Hamburg and Rome have launched bids for the 2024 Games while Paris is expected to join them before the mid-September deadline. The host City will be selected in 2017.
“We were very happy to see the Prime Minister is sharing the opinion. He is seriously looking into an Olympic candidature but wants to have this well-prepared,” Bach said on his first visit to India since becoming the IOC president.
“He also considers that building such a successful candidature from now to Sept. 15 is maybe a little bit difficult. So we will stay in contact for the future but for 2024, we share the same opinion.”
Three-times host of the 50-over cricket World Cup, India staged the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982 in New Delhi.
The Indian capital also hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which was marred by charges of corruption and construction delays.
Bach said he and Modi agreed India should now focus on their athletes performing better in Olympics.
“India is a sleeping giant and we were then at length discussing how we can wake up this sleeping giant.
“We are more than happy to assist because we think that 1.2 billion people with about 80 million young people have a huge potential, not only in sports but in particular in sports. India could be a powerhouse in sports.”
Once a hockey powerhouse who won the event in eight summer Games, cricket-mad India remains an Olympic under-achiever and had to wait until 2008 for its first individual gold medal.
“Sought @Olympics President Mr. Bach’s support in making India a hub for sports infrastructure & technology,” Modi tweeted.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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