Under normal circumstances, a country that was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) just 12 months ago would not be so daft as to consider bidding for the Summer Games. But in India, anything can happen.
The Indian Olympic Association was suspended from the IOC from December 2012 to February 2014 months is a dispute over the election of officials, and Indian athletes had to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics under the IOC flag, as the Indian flag was not permitted.
Considering such a fall-out, it should be inconceivable that Delhi could win the next bid to host the Summer Games, shouldn’t it? Well, no actually; in fact, if Delhi were to enter the race for the 2024 Olympics, it would probably start as favourite.
India’s Olympic history is not especially good. The fact that its London 2012 total of six medals was the country’s best every haul says all that needs to be said. And India’ record of hosting events isn’t brilliant either; just look at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
But India today is not the India of 2010. Narendra Modi’s government has injected fresh impetus into the country, with promises of improved infrastructure, sanitation and safety. And the PM, who meets IOC president Thomas Bach this month, might not have to work too hard to state his country’s case.
The IOC has had a lot of recent success in bringing events to major emerging economies. It has now ticked off three of the four BRIC nations, with Beijing 2008, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016. Dotting the ‘I’ must be tempting for the IOC, especially when this particular ‘I’ is home to 1.3 billion people.
It will have concerns of course, many of them, but the lure of breaking new ground (no country in South or Southeast Asia has ever hosted the Olympics) and the potential audience figures are likely to outweigh them.
That is not to say Delhi doesn’t have stiff competition; Rome and Boston have already confirmed their candidacy, and the US city would have a lot of backing, especially after the Boston Marathon bomb attacks. Paris could also mount a strong bid. But despite all of these cities having better credentials than Delhi, the Indian capital is likely to be very difficult to beat.