By Nick Butler

India have dropped their always unlikely bid for the 2019 Asian Games ©Getty ImagesNew Delhi's bid to step in and host the 2019 Asian Games has been abandoned after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) proved unable to meet the deadline imposed by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) due to a lack of support from the Government.

India, which hoped to use many of the facilities built for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, had already missed the deadline of July 1 for the submission of bids to find a replacement host for Hanoi, who had pulled out in April citing economic pressures having been originally awarded the Games two years ago.

After a request for a 15-day deadline was turned down by the continental federation, the IOA was allocated a "couple of extra days" in which to hold meetings with the Indian Government to confirm details of their bid. 

But after they proved unable to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seen as the last chance to resurrect a flagging attempt, the dropping of the bid was confirmed by IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta.

"There is no more chance of bidding for the 2019 Asian Games," Mehta told Reuters. 

"We had already sought an extension from the OCA which has ended and we failed in our efforts to meet the Prime Minister.

"Honestly, the time was too short.

"There's no one to blame, neither the Government nor the IOA, we tried our best but it was not enough."

New Delhi hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as well as the 1951 and 1982 editions of the Asian Games ©Getty ImagesNew Delhi hosted the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as well as the 1951 and 1982 editions of the Asian Games ©Getty Images

Considering the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games took place among many corruption allegations, while a 14-month suspension of the IOA from the International Olympic Committee was lifted earlier this year only after the appointment of Narayana Ramachandran as President, an Indian Games had always seemed unlikely.

But in a trend that has become a constant theme in the Olympic Movement in recent months, it is thought concerns over expenditure put the Indian Government off supporting the bid.

This is particularly because Prime Minister Modi was elected in May with the promise of addressing fiscal discipline and introducing economic reforms, although the fact the Games would have taken place shortly before the next elections, in 2019, could also have played a role due to the risk of a scandal affecting political campaigns.

Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told the Hindustan Times that "they were very positive in trying to bid", but were handicapped by "serious time constraints".

"We got the first letter from the IOA on June 26 when our Government was just over a month old while the OCA deadline was July 1," he added.

"We had very little time to finalise the bid document which we failed to do despite our best efforts."

Indonesia has always been considered the favoured candidate to host the Games in place of Hanoi ©AFP/Getty ImagesIndonesia has always been considered the favoured candidate to host the Games in place of Hanoi ©AFP/Getty Images

The Indian withdrawal leaves Indonesia, who came runner-up behind Vietnamese capital Hanoi in the original contest in 2012, as the even stronger favourite host the event, with a final decision due to be made on September 20 during the next edition of the Asian Games in Incheon.

Among those to have spoken supportively about the Indonesian attempt, expected to take place predominantly in the capital city Jakarta, is OCA honorary vice-president Wei Jizhong,

Following an inspection visit in May, he said he "didn't think other competitors can offer better conditions than Indonesia for the time being".

Among other locations still reportedly considering bidding are Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines, although whether the OCA would accept them, with the deadline having passed, remains uncertain. 

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