19 Jun 2022  |   06:09am IST

14 years too short to host National Games?

It has been eleven years since Goa was supposed to host national games and yet “Goa is not ready” to do so. The State was allotted the 36th National Games in 2008 and was expected to host and conduct the event in 2011 after the Kerala National Games, which is the last national games event held in India. In fact Goa had the time of 14 years since 2008 to prepare itself to host the event. Ironically, the National Games mascot Rubigula was also unveiled in January, 2020.

Not too long ago, in October last year Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, while addressing the board meeting of the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG), had said that Goa is ready to host the 36th edition of the often postponed National Games but was not sure when the multi-discipline sports event will be held in the State. The National Games event has been postponed several times in the past citing reasons that Goa was not prepared due to the lack of sport infrastructure.

In fact, in May 2020, it was announced that games will postponed as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, much to the relief of Goa.

“We do not know when the National Games are going to happen, but from our side we are fully prepared. We are almost ready with the infrastructural work,” Pramod Sawant had said in October last year.

The Assembly was also informed last year by the ruling dispensation that government has already spent Rs 450 crore on creation of the infrastructure and that Rs 121.80 crore is sanctioned and released by the Central government. The organising committee has drawn up a budget of Rs 202 crore for the Games and Sawant has assured there would not be any shortage of funds to conduct the much-delayed event as and when it happens. Sawant had mentioned that Rs 150 crore has been set aside for the successful conduct of the Games.

However, on the contrary the Goa Sports Minister Govind Gaude on Friday said that Goa is neither ready to host National Games in time even as the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) had asked to host the National Games in Goa from September 1 to 16 this year. The reason he stated was “With two months till September and the commencement of the monsoon season we do not have enough time, so it’s tough to prepare for the National Games.”

In fact, adding more to the embarrassment Goa will request the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to grant the State six months preferably after December to host the National Games in 2023 and to put the required infrastructure in place for the National Games. “I will write a letter to the IOA requesting them for six months’ time to host the National Games to put the infrastructure together so that we’ll be in a position to host the Games in 2023,” he said. It is clear there is lack of intention and attention. Eleven years is too long a period to develop infrastructure for sports.

Agree, COVID-19 had affected the sporting activities all over the world, however, the willingness to find a way and host the Euro 20 and the Tokyo Olympics under restriction was achieved. Importantly, Goa at the first place was supposed to host the National Games in 2011. COVID-19 hit us much later.

If we were fully prepared in October last year to host the Games, how come in June this year we can say that we are ‘not prepared’?. This clearly indicates that either sports in Goa is not given adequate credence or importance or there is a lack of willingness and direction to honour the commitment, bringing embarrassment to the State at national level. Ironically, Chhattisgarh is the next State to host the 37th National Games but it has to wait till Goa completes its task of hosting the 36th National Games.


Idhar Udhar