Hangzhou linked to Olympic bid following Asian Games success

The Hangzhou Asian Games closing ceremony, Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium

Featured image credit: Hangzhou Asian Games OC / Xia Yang

Hangzhou has tempered talk of an Olympic bid despite widespread praise for its hosting of the 19th Asian Games.

The Chinese city staged the biggest Asiad in history as it welcomed more than 12,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands of fans before Sunday’s closing ceremony.

The 40 sports were played in 56 venues, with 12 of those newly built, including the flagship 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, known as the ‘Big Lotus’.

Hangzhou officials have expressed their desire to host more multi-sport events in the future, and by the time the so far unallocated 2036 Games takes place it will be almost 30 years since China staged the Beijing 2008 Games.

While officials in Hangzhou, which has a population of 10 million, have downplayed suggestions they are already mulling a bid, they emphasised that the city’s venues do meet Olympic requirements.

“The venues for the Asian Games are excellent,” said Chen Weiqiang, who is Deputy Mayor of Hangzhou and executive secretary general of Hangzhou 2022. “They were highly rated, and they are eligible to hold large multi-sport events, including the Olympic Games.

“After the close of the Asian Games, what we are focused on is how the venues can be more even more extensively used by the people. We haven’t thought about whether we can hold the Olympic Games.”

Wei Jizhong, honorary life vice-president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), said: “The success of the Asian Games has provided the council with an opportunity to establish basic criteria for future Asian Games.

“We don’t rank Games against one another on which was the best. But, in terms of the Games in China, I give it a mark of 99. Why 99? There is always room for improvement.”

Support for India

A number of Asian cities have already expressed interest in the 2036 Games, with the Olympics having been allocated to Europe, North America and Australasia since Tokyo 2020 took place in Asia. Nusantara in Indonesia has already officially expressed its interest, while South Korea’s capital city Seoul, the Chinese city of Chengdu and Qatar’s capital city of Doha have been linked with bids.

India is set to confirm its plan to bid for the 2036 Games when it hosts the 140th IOC Session in Mumbai later this month. Indian sport is most likely to rally around a bid by the city of Ahmedabad and the wider Gujarat region, which has already been backed by India’s Youth and Sports Affairs Minister. Earlier this year it was reported that Populous had been recruited to assist with Ahmedabad’s bid.

Support for an Indian bid has galvanised after a successful showing at the Asian Games, where India secured a record 107 medals, including 28 gold. India has never hosted the Olympic Games.

Indian Olympic Association president PT Usha told reporters in Hangzhou: “We should bid for the 2036 Olympics. I am sure India will win more medals in the Paris Olympics than in Tokyo, and then, with the medals to show, we can host the Olympics.

“The government is doing everything possible for the betterment of Indian sports and for the athletes. Our prime minister takes a lot of interest in the country’s sports.”

Mexico has officially expressed its interest in 2036 while Turkey, Hungary and Poland are each likely to bid.

Bid process

The 2036 Games will be the first to be allocated since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made major changes to the bidding process. After the interested countries place their proposal of interest, the IOC’s Future Host Commission will identify and propose its preferred candidate to the Executive Board. The Executive Board can then enter targeted dialogue with a bid and then decide whether to recommend that a proposal be brought to a vote at an IOC Session.

Another change is that the IOC wants more flexibility in its timeline for awarding hosting rights. Therefore a hard deadline has not been publicised for the allocation of the 2036 Games.

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