Plans for India’s first-ever Olympic Hospitality House at Tokyo 2020 have been officially unveiled by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
The House is being established in partnership with business conglomerate the JSW Group, whose sports director Young Jindal got the idea during the last Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“In Rio, I was excited to see a USA House, France House, Heineken House [Dutch] and a Brazil House,” he said during a ceremony in New Delhi to announce it.
“It was a brilliant idea to celebrate the spirit of the Olympics and bring fans up and close to their superstars.
“I bought a ticket to visit one of them and it was a great experience.”
Its launch will coincide with the centenary of India making their debut in the Olympic Games at Antwerp in 1920.
An area of 2,227 square metres of land has been rented in the Ariake district, close to the Athletes’ Village in the Japanese capital, to set up the House, which fans will be able to visit for a fee.
There will be a media centre for the Indian press and a trade area where Indian companies can exhibit.
“Indian cuisine will be a major attraction for fans and athletes,” Jindal said.
“Plus, the message of Incredible India will be taken forward by agents doing business in tourism.
“India can demonstrate its soft power.”
India’s Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who had first revealed in August that an Indian Olympic House would be launched for Tokyo 2020, hailed the idea of the country having such a visible presence during the Games.
“We are working as a team and that’s going to be the way forward,” said Rijiju.
“I wonder why no one thought of a India House before.”
IOA President Narinder Batra hoped the House will become the place where Indian athletes and supporters would gather to celebrate.
“The India House is a great initiative,” he said.
“We are pleased that JSW has come on board to showcase our culture and heritage at the Olympics through this Hospitality [House].
“We hope the Indian athletes and fans feel at home in this foreign land during the Tokyo Olympics.”
IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta identified the site and will oversee the House during the Games, scheduled to take place between July 24 and August 9.
“We thought it could be a great initiative to mark 100 years to India’s first participation in Olympic Games,” he said.
“The India House will host special meetings and dignitaries from different [International] Federations and Olympic Committees and help India make its presence felt in the Olympic Movement.”
Duncan Mackay is the editor of insidethegames.biz. Awards include British Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, British News Story of the Year in 2004 and British Sports Internet Reporter of the Year in 2009. Mackay is one of Britain’s best-connected journalists and during the 16 years he worked at The Guardian and The Observer he regularly broke a number of major exclusive stories, including the news that British sprinter Dwain Chambers had tested positive for banned performance enhancing drugs.
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