NEW DELHI :
Delhi, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad emerged as India’s top five cities which have the infrastructure to hot global sporting events, revealed findings of a joint report by consulting, auditing and advisory firm Grant Thornton Bharat and industry body CII.
To be sure, over the years India has hosted multiple global sporting events such as the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the ICC World Cup 2011, FIFA U17 World Cup, Formula One 2011 Indian Grand Prix and Hockey World Cup among others. However, among the 10 largest economies in the world, India is the only country to have not hosted the prestigious summer Olympic Games.
Also Read | India’s vaccine rollout changes gears
The ‘Sports Cities of India 2021’ report, unveiled at the sixth edition of CII’s global sports summit Scorecard, assessed the country’s readiness to host global sports events. These cities were ranked on parameters such as ability to host world-class multi-sport events, fan following during live events, ease of access and availability of playgrounds/sports facilities, quality of sports academies and coaching centres, quality of stadiums and facilities, among others.
The findings are based on a survey of 50 respondents which included sports professionals, associations, government, leagues, clubs, academies, infrastructure developers, sports media and event/sports management agencies, among others.
Delhi and Mumbai emerged as top Indian cities with a total score of 7.9. Delhi has hosted multiple mega events such as FIH Men’s Hockey and 2010 Commonwealth Games. While it has good quality infrastructure, presence of federations and sports businesses, it needs improvement on fan following — that is people attending sports tournaments — during events and proper utilisation of sports facilities in parts of stadiums.
Despite space constraints Mumbai, the financial capital city of India, has also hosted 20 major international sports events in the last four years, with an average of five events being hosted annually. It needs to improve on quality of stadium and active involvement of people in day to pay sports.
Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar emerged as key city after Delhi and Mumbai with a score of 7.2. Though it needs improvement on local teams in national leagues and presence of sports businesses, federations/associations and brands and manufacturers in the city. The state supports three professional sports league teams – Kalinga Lancers, Odisha FC, and Indian Arrows. After hosting Hockey World Cup 2018 and Asian Athletics Championship 2017, Bhubaneswar has also won the bid to host the Hockey World Cup 2023 – the first time in the history to have the same hosts back-to-back.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru, with a 6.8 score, has good infrastructure along with active youth and society involvement in day-to-day sports. Improvement is needed on number of national and international sports events and tournaments being hosted in the city.
Home to world’s largest Narendra Modi cricket stadium with a capacity of 1,10,000 spectators, Ahmedabad with a score of 6.4 scored high on infrastructure, facilities and fan following. The report said the city is an example of effective implementation of public private partnership (PPP) for sports facilities. The EKA Arena, co-owned by SE TransStadia and the Gujarat government, has football stadium with a capacity of 20,000 which hosted the Kabaddi World Cup in 2016.
“This report serves as a starting point for an annual study for sports cities and events in India. Such a study will be important for us to continuously assess, recalibrate and strengthen our methodologies to develop sports in India,” said Anupam Goswami, chairman, CII National Committee on Sports & CEO, Mashal Sports & League Commissioner, Pro Kabaddi League.
Kunal Sood, partner, Grant Thornton Bharat, noted that in recent times, there have been talks of India being a potential host to the some of the marquee events in world of sport, including bidding for the prestigious Olympic Games.
“While it is evident that the road to hosting such an event would be long and full of hurdles, it is important to assess where the strengths and areas of improvement for our cities currently lie,” he said.