IOA drops late bid plans for New Delhi to host 2019 Asian Games

Published 09 July 2014 | Authored by: Manali Kulkarni
This week’s Indian sports law update looks back on India’s failed bid for the 2019 Asian Games (the “Games”). After a late flurry of action, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)1 formally announced on 7 July that they were dropping2 India’s bid for New Delhi to host the Games after they failed to secure an audience with the national Government or an extension to the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA)3 bidding deadline. The story provides an an interesting illustration of how bid processes are conducted, and how the IOA interacts with the government.
Hanoi was originally approved to host the Games back in November 2012 but, owing to preparations and financial concerns,4 officially withdrew on 17 April 20145. The OCA then reopened the bidding process for host cities, and the IOA argued over whether to nominate New Delhi.6
 
In early June, IOA Secretary General, Rajeev Mehta, said a decision would be taken at the IOA’s General Body meeting later that month.7 The decision proved positive and, on June 20, the IOA Executive Committeesubmitted its bidding interest in a preliminary letter to the OCA.8
 
The OCA replied to the IOA’s letter by sending them a list of the necessary bidding documents that IOA were required to submit together with their formal “Letter of Intent”9 on or prior to the bidding deadline of July 1.10
 
The bidding procedure the Asian Games is established in the OCA Constitution andRules (the “OCA Rules”). Article 45 “Bidding Procedure for OCA Games”, states at paragraph 1 that:
 
Upon the opening of the bid by the OCA, the interested NOCs will send their “Letter of Intent” to the OCA Secretariat within one month (30 days) accompanied by the non-refundable bid money;”.11
 
The requirements for applications to hold the Games are set out under Article 44 “Application to hold the OCA Games”, and Section 1 of “‘Bye-Law to Article 44” states, inter alia, that:
 
The application must include answers to the questions raised in the OCA Games Bid Manuel and the Asian Games Questionnaire which will provided by the OCA to each of the bidding cities. The application should be accompanied by a clear guarantee that….there are no laws, customs or regulations in the suggested city or in the country that would limit, restrict or interfere with the Games...”. 12
 
On Friday, June 27, the IOA sent a further letter to the OCA Director General, Hussain Al Musallam13 requesting that the OCA “send a senior official to help [India] expedite the final bid submission process” in order to meet the 1 July deadline,14 and asking for clarification on a number of issues, which included:
  1. The draft format of guarantees on tax exemptions, custom duties and PR campaign for USD 15 million.
  2. Revenue estimates under the marketing programme of the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, besides the full marketing guidelines, including broadcasting and ticketing.
  3. Examples of the format required for the letters from Delhi government, sports ministry and leader of opposition.
  4. Inquires about the allocation of USD 30 million to OCA broadcast services for host broadcast of the Games.
  5. Inquiries over whether 30 million was the final expenditure or estimated budget, and whether this payment will be made to OCA or to third party.
  6. Whether the entire broadcast production and International Broadcast Centre will be taken care of by the OCA broadcast services within this expenditure.
While correspondence continued with the OCA, the IOA turned their attention to securing the formal approval of the Indian Government, which was proving to be a growing concern.
 
Governmental approval is a necessary prerequisite to any national bid for the Games pursuant to Paragraph 2, Article 44 of the OCA Rules, which states:
 
The Member must have the written approval of its Government as well as the City Authorities, declaring its support to the holding of the Games with guarantee of free entry to delegates of participating countries.15
 
Article 44 is supported by Part 1, “Application” of the “Bye-Law to Article 44” in the OCA Constitution, which states, “An application for the allotment of the OCA GAMES must be countersigned by the Government of the country, endorsed by the cities authorities and accompanied by an adequate guarantee that the Games will be organised to the satisfaction and requirements of the OCA.”16
 
The Indian Government requested the IOA’s detailed plans and venues for the bid. On June 28, 2014, the national sports secretary stated that the IOA had yet to send through details.17 The IOA explained that it planned to present to the sports secretary and government on Monday, June 30, 2014 and, simultaneously, expressed that it was seeking an extension to the bidding deadline from OCA.18
 
The IOA then provided the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports19 , referred to as the Sports Ministry, with necessary details for various stadiums, projecting a budget of one billion USD (583 million GBP).20 The Sports Ministry explained that it was the Prime Minister’s decision whether to approve the bid, so Mehta sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s office on July 3, 2014.
 
However, complications continued on Friday, July 4, as the OCA refused to grant the IOA’s request for a 15-day extension because of their own obligations to approve a new host city by September.21 The OCA did though grant the IOA a “couple of days” grace, without giving a specific date to submit its bid.22
However, on Monday, 7 July, the IOA finally threw in the towel after failing to get an audience with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Metha stated:
 
[T]here was no more chance of bidding for the 2019 Asian Games...we had already sought an extension from the OCA which has ended and we failed in our efforts to meet the Prime Minister...honestly, the time was too short. There's no one to blame ... neither the government nor the IOA. We tried our best but it was not enough."23
 
The government’s involvement in the completing the bid process was predicted to be a complex and convoluted process, which would have required “Cabinet approval, letters of support from chief minister or Delhi, Lt Governor, Sports Minister, leader of majority party and leader of opposition party, letter of guarantee on tax exemption of Marketing/Games Revenue etc...24. The tight timeframes clearly made this an impossible task.
 
India had been competing with Indonesia, among other countries, for the bid, and Indonesia are tipped to be the probable new choice.25The OCA plans to announce its decision on September 20, 2014 when they meet in Incheon.26
 

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About the Author

Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).

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