The Olympics have said goodbye to Asia after a doomed run, and it’s unclear when they’ll be back after the continent has hosted four of the last eight Games.
The earliest return of the Summer Games is in 2036, and the favorite could be the most populous country in the world – not China, as you might expect, but India.
India’s population is expected to surpass China’s 1.4 billion in the next decade, and it is pushing for the western city of Ahmedabad to be the host city for 2036, with events elsewhere including New Delhi, the capital.
“India is in a race to host 2036,” Narinder Batra, chairman of the Indian Olympic Committee, told The Associated Press. He offered few other details.
As a sign of support, the IOC has scheduled the annual meeting of all its members for next year in the western Indian metropolis, Mumbai. It’s a signal that courtship has begun.
Introducing the pitch: Nita Ambani, Indian IOC member, married to Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries. The family fortune is estimated at 100 billion dollars.
As it did with China, the IOC can look to India as a new frontier that will produce deep-pocketed sponsors, television rights deals and generous government support.
Leaving Asia means returning to familiar ground: the Summer Games in Paris in 2024, the Winter Games in 2026 in Milan-Cortina and the Summer Games in 2028 in Los Angeles. Brisbane is also lined up for the 2032 Summer Olympics, a return to Australia 32 years after Sydney.
Brisbane are certain to add cricket to their sporting menu and, of course, it would stay in place for India, where the sport is the most fervent in the world.
The focus on Asia began with the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a big coming-out party that many hoped would change China. Instead, China used the Games to change the way it was perceived.
The Asian race has enriched the IOC with lucrative billion-dollar sponsorship deals with Alibaba in China and Toyota in Japan, rooted itself in the world’s most populous continent and featured a return to South Korea 30 years after the 1988 Seoul Olympics were credited with helping usher in democracy.
Asia has also generated poor public relations for the IOC. This includes a lingering state-sponsored doping scandal from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics that has resurfaced with allegations in Beijing against Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva.
There was the IOC vote-buying linked to the Tokyo Olympics award, which forced the resignation of the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, and a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games which have just ended. , centered on human rights abuses that have also plagued Beijing. In 2008.
Add the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. It was another non-traditional save that caused problems. It saw the organizing committee facing bankruptcy and Carlos Nuzman, the head of the committee, found guilty of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The former IOC member appeals.
“I think the IOC is viewed as a bad guy globally right now, and they need to do something to change their image,” said Robert Baade, a sports economist at Lake Forest College near Chicago. “I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon.”
Baade is the co-author of “Going for Gold: The Economics of the Olympics,” a study that examines the costs and benefits of the Games.
“It’s these little things, the five-star hotels, the elitism, the privilege that the IOC flaunts – and its Eurocentrism,” Baade added.
Christophe Dubi, executive director of the Olympics, acknowledged that India had shown strong interest, but declined to name other countries that have done so. Several Chinese cities were mentioned as possibilities, along with Jakarta, Indonesia, Seoul and others.
“We have to respect the fact that some talk to us confidentially because governments are not fully on board, or sometimes governments are interested but it’s not the right time,” Dubi said.
The IOC no longer runs an open bidding process, but rather selects cities in which it has an interest – and vice versa. This puts the selection in the hands of the IOC management rather than in the hands of the IOC members. The 2036 host is unlikely to be chosen before the next IOC presidential election in 2025.
The other comeback in Asia could come with the 2030 Winter Olympics, where Sapporo, Japan – the 1972 winter host – is likely the favorite.
Vancouver, Salt Lake City and a Spanish bid, possibly from Barcelona, could also be in the game.
Japanese news agency Kyodo, citing unidentified sources, reported that Sapporo and the IOC are in talks and a decision could come before the end of the year. The city estimated the cost at $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion.
The IOC owes Japan a favor after the one-year postponement of the 2020 Olympics cost organizers an additional $2 billion. Dubi didn’t confirm any of that, but said the IOC was lucky that Japan and China are hosting the final two Olympics amid the pandemic.
“I think we were very lucky to have them as partners,” Dubi said. “I’m not saying others couldn’t have done it. But if you had to pick two countries where it was still doable and where you wouldn’t have doubts they could make it happen – it’s these two there.”
Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report. More AP Winter Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports