The Indian Olympic Association on Tuesday expressed a strong desire to stage the 2019 Asian Games following the withdrawal of Vietnam capital Hanoi and is banking on the next central government to approve the plan, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said.

Mr. Mehta said in case India hosts the 2019 Asian Games, the IOA will not exercise financial powers and will only organise the multi-sporting event, a remark which appeared to stem from the experience of 2010 Commonwealth Games corruption scandal.

“We want to host 2019 Asian Games after Vietnam’s withdrawal. We will take a final decision in IOA General Body Meeting which will be held most likely next month. We are waiting for the new government to be formed and hoping to get its approval,” Mr. Mehta told PTI in an interview.

“We have all the infrastructure in Delhi. I feel it’s a matter of getting government approval,” he added.

Hanoi was chosen in 2012 to host the 18th Asian Games ahead of Indonesia’s Surabaya but last month, the Vietnamese capital withdrew due to economic pressures.

Indonesia has expressed its willingness to step in as a replacement and a final decision on the host city will be decided on September 20 during the Incheon Asian Games.

India had bid for hosting this year’s Asian Games but had lost out to Incheon in 2007.

Asked if the IOA has sounded out Olympic Council of Asia expressing India’s willingness, Mr. Mehta said, “We are having communication through unofficial channels with OCA. The important thing is to get government approval. So let the new government be formed first.”

He said in case India hosts the 2019 Asiad, the IOA will not exercise financial powers but will only be involved in organisational and technical matters.

“We don’t want to get into controversies and we will ask the government to exercise financial powers by themselves or by any other they may decide. But we won’t exercise financial powers. We will just organise the Games and get involved in technical things,” he said.

In recent times, National Games have been delayed several times due to incompletion of infrastructure and Mr. Mehta said the IOA has decided to impose hefty fines on such host cities.

“We have now decided to include in the host city agreement that a venue will be fined Rs 3 crore for delay in hosting the Games. The IOA will also have the power to strip that city of hosting rights and award it to another city,” he said.

“There will be time frames for completion of various stages of infrastructure building and the IOA committee set up for the purpose will report to the IOA. All these will be confirmed at the GBM,” he added.

Asked who was in the reckoning to become IOC member from India in place of Randhir Singh, Mr. Mehta said, “There are many eminent and senior administrators in the IOA who can become IOC member, including the president (N. Ramachandran) and IOA vice-president Narinder Batra.

“It’s a prestigious post. If the president (Ramachandran) himself wants to become IOC member, we will support it. I will be happy if my president becomes IOC member. The GBM will take a call on it but I am not in the fray. He (Ramachandran) is an experienced and proven sports administrator. He has an excellent rapport with IOC officials as he is also World Squash Federation chief. It will be a matter of pride for the country if he becomes the IOC member,” he said.

“He is a strong candidate. I will try my best but this will be the decision of the General Body. There are also other experienced and eligible persons. (Narinder) Batra has also done good work for the IOA. So, let the General Body take a decision,” Mehta said, adding that there would not be any problem for the boxers to play under the Indian flag in the Commonwealth and Asian Games even if the international federation (AIBA) does not recognise the national body (IBF) by then.

“The ad hoc body was formed by IOA after getting consent from the AIBA. So the boxers will take part under Indian flag, no matter the IBF is recognised or not by AIBA by the time of CWG and Asian Games. That has been agreed by the AIBA itself.”

He said the IOA will take decisions form new Athletes Commission and Ethics Commission during the upcoming GBM.

“We are going to form an Athletes Commission and we are considering to even include an eminent athlete in the Executive Committee with voting rights. Not only the IOA, all the National Sports Federations will now need to have Athletes Commission.”

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