IOC chief Bach arrives today

Thomas Bach

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is likely to express its willingness in hosting the 2026 Youth Olympic Games when International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach arrives here on Wednesday for a two-day visit.

Bach, during his second visit to the country, will meet the newly elected IOA office bearers, several Olympic medallists and Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.

Olympic Council of Asia President and chief of the influential Association of National Olympic Committees, Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah will also accompany Bach.

The IOC chief will touch down New Delhi late on Wednesday night from Bangkok where he is attending the Sports Accord Summit.

The IOA, it is learnt, will express its willingness to host the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in India.

No official from the IOA is willing to come on record but sources said that the government is not averse to this idea as the cost of hosting a Youth Olympics is much less than a full-fledged Olympic Games.

"Since the cost of hosting a Youth Olympics is to be shared with the IOC, the government is likely to agree to India hosting it in near future. So, we will express our willingness during the meeting with Bach," an IOA official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

"We will convey to Bach our willingness to host big events," he added.

The cost of hosting a Youth Olympics will be shared between the IOC and the host city, while the travel costs of athletes and coaches are paid by the IOC. The number of athletes to take part in a Youth Olympics is also fixed at around 3,500.

The first edition of the Youth Olympics held in Singapore in 2010 had a cost of around USD 400 million. Nanjing, China, hosted the event in 2014 while the 2018 edition will be held at Buenos Aires in October this year.

The bidding process is likely to start in the early part of 2020 only and with the infrastructure of 2010 Commonwealth Games in place, New Delhi could be the likely choice of host venue.

IOA President Narinder Batra, just after his election to the top job in December last year, had said that India should think of hosting big-ticket events like the 2030 Asian Games and 2032 Olympics.

"The IOA would certainly convey our readiness to host big-ticket multi-discipline events in India and would like to discuss how we can effectively work towards achieving IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 strategy," Batra had said last month while announcing Bach's visit to the country.

Rathore, however, has said that the government was not in favour of hosting big-budget multi-sporting events but he may not be averse to India hosting a Youth Olympics Games as this will not need much expenditure.

The IOC had introduced these Youth Olympic Games in order to take Olympic events to areas where the Summer or Winter Olympics are not held. It is pushing hard to take these Youth Olympics to Africa in 2022 as that continent has not hosted any Olympic Games.

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