India to step up battle for 2032 Olympics after pandemic: sports chief

[NEW DELHI] India will step up its battle to win the 2032 Olympic Games and other international events when the global coronavirus pandemic eases, its top sports leader Narinder Batra told AFP. Ten years after hosting the Commonwealth Games, the Indian Olympic Association president said his country had lessons to learn but would not be deterred. India has already written expressions of interest to the International Olympic Committee but faces reported competition from Thailand, Russia and Colombia for the 2026 event. Mr Batra, also head of the International Hockey Federation, said "documentation" has started for 2032 but work is now frozen. Delhi's hosting of the Commonwealth Games was marked by construction delays, failing infrastructure and accusations of financial mismanagement. More recently, Delhi was stripped of the 2021 world boxing championships, with the global body accusing organisers of failing to pay a hosting fee on time. Mr Batra said he knew nothing of the boxing dispute but insisted that the 2010 multi-sport event had made India think big and its growing economic clout means it has resources. India has a population of 1.3 billion people but while it excels at cricket, its team returned from the 2016 Rio Olympics with just two medals. The coronavirus pandemic has only made it harder for athletes to train for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, put back until at least 2021. Mr Batra said he was counting on the men's hockey team - which has won eight Olympic golds but not finished in the first four since 1980 - to return to success.

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