The venue being prepped for the upcoming 141st International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Mumbai beginning October 15. Image: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP
Forty years after it hosted a session of the International Olympic Association (IOA), in Delhi in 1983, the second such event is set to begin in the country, this time in Mumbai. The 141st session of the IOC will take place in the financial capital from October 15-17, preceded by its executive board meeting on October 12 and 13. The opening ceremony is slated for October 14.
What’s an IOC session?
It’s the annual general meeting of the IOC and its supreme decision-making forum. Key decisions like picking host cities, election of members and office bearers, recognition or exclusion of sports federations and national Olympic committees, among other things, are taken during this event, typically held over a two-three-day period. An IOC session also deliberates and decides on adding new sports to the Games. It’s going to be a key talking point this year given that the committee is expected to announce whether cricket will be included in the Los Angeles Games scheduled for 2028.
How did India get to host the session?
India won the rights to host the 141st session unopposed, during the IOC’s 139th session in Beijing, with an overwhelming 99 percent votes. Seventy-five members supported India’s bid presented by a delegation that comprised Abhinav Bindra, the country’s first individual Olympic gold medallist, Nita Ambani, the first Indian woman to be elected an IOC member (in 2016), then IOA president Narinder Batra and sports minister Anurag Thakur. Also read: The spirit of Olympics, through art and films
Why is the session significant for India?
The session will allow India to showcase to elite IOC delegates its readiness to host a high-octane event like the Olympics. As Thakur told the media recently, India is keen on hosting the 2036 Games and is preparing to bid for it.
The event also indicates India’s rising stature in the IOC, which has been significantly buoyed by the performance of its athletes on the world stage. The country turned a corner in the 2008 Beijing Games as Bindra won a gold medal in shooting—it was India’s first-ever individual gold and the first gold since the men’s hockey team won the 1980 Games. India’s medals tally has been growing since, with the country finishing the latest edition, Tokyo 2020, with a record haul of seven medals. It included a gold medal by javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who has since won every marquee tournament, including the recently concluded Asian Games in Hangzhou, where India also brought home over 100 medals, the highest-ever.
What’s the word on cricket?
The Mumbai session will also pass a verdict on whether cricket would be a part of the Los Angeles Games in 2028. The organising committee of the 2028 Games recently announced that they have sent an official proposal for the “potential inclusion” of five sports—cricket, baseball/softball, lacrosse, flag football and squash. The recommendation is expected to be reviewed and ratified by the IOC session. If included, the top six T20 sides, for both men and women, are likely to play in the competition. It would also be the second time that cricket would feature in the Olympics—the first and the only Olympic cricket match took place in the Paris Games of 1900 where Great Britain beat hosts France to win the gold medal.