A discussion on India's Olympics fiasco

In a nation of 1.3 billion people, we find it hard to search for and train the best talent in the world who can win many medals for India and make us all proud. While a small country like England with only a few millions in population earns the second spot in olympics. Or take for example New Zealand which has consistently scored a very high number of medals per capita in the Olympics.

So let’s have a discussion on why India is unable to perform at the international level in the Olympics. Here may be some of the reasons:

  • There are systemic inefficiencies and lack of infrastructure that’s plaguing our sports
  • Presence of corruption and favouritism that’s not helping real talent shine through
  • A lack of sporting culture in our nation
  • We do not have world class talent. Genetics is not on our side in many sports

I would say all of the above.

The question I would ask is should Olympics really be a priority for India? Let’s face it, we have bigger problems than not winning Olympics medals. China starts training children as young as 5 in its Olympics farms, is that who we want to be? Not to say that talent should not be encouraged and nurtured but is that really something the government should make a priority of? - Abhinav Bindra was quoted as saying that the cost of an Olympic medal is GBP 5.5 M. Think of all the roads and schools and hospitals that would arguably be a better use of that kind of tax payer money.

You have got some good points. Training that starts at a young age is essential. Most countries that win scores of medals train their athletes young. And China’s Olympic farms are not what we want to have.

But, hey! Why do we always have to talk about how we can build better roads, hospitals, schools with the money when we talk about sports, space research and such? Let’s understand if we had the culture to have some good infrastructure we would already have it on par with any country in the world. But we collectively as a society don’t want to have good roads with walkable footpaths in our nation. Or good drainage, or clean rivers and riversides, or good public hospitals. We have the kind of money for building and maintaining all these. But we don’t care.

So let’s not use our civic infrastructure woes as an excuse for not building necessary sports infrastructure that will cost peanuts compared to our highways projects or one bullet train project. We should not forget the money spent on these is not going to waste either. The stadiums, tracks, and facilities can be monetized well if needed and also made available to the public at cheap rates just like some advanced countries like Norway and Sweden do.