By Oken Jeet Sandham
New Delhi, though not seen producing good sportspersons in spite of being second largest populated country in the world, has courage to host this XIX Commonwealth Games 2010. This mega sporting event will be held from October 3 to 14, 2010 at Delhi.
Initial estimation of the Games was Rs 11,494 crore or US$ 2.5 billion. They commented that the 2010 CWG would be the most expensive CWG ever, being larger than previous Games in Melbourne 2006 (Appx US$1.1 billion). But according to the report given to the media, Rs 77,000 crore has already been spent so far till date.
In the last two months, unprecedented crisis of the mismanagement, corruption, sub-standard construction of sports infrastructures, filthy and uninhabitable Games Village, etc have gripped the whole nation. The collapsing of foot over bridge and falling down of ceiling in the boxing stadium have also drawn the world-wide attention. The leaders of the Organizing Committee have to run for cover from the barrage of the media attacks and also verbal fire from the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Delhi has witnessed numerous problems for quite some time as it had to meet the deadline set for completion of all the necessary infrastructures with modern facilities, and also gives a complete overhaul to the capital face. It is actually a mess and chaotic situation in Delhi. Diversion of traffics, rerouting of routes, and heavy deployment of security personnel in the national capital have given unprecedented problems to the commuters, citizens, businessmen, etc. It is a nightmare for the new comers in the city.
It is actually a herculean task for Delhi to host this mega sporting event, needing thousands of manpower, machineries, technicians, designers, architectures with almost all the materials imported. Many of the contractors were foreign-based.
I was happy when the Prime Minister dedicated the magnificent New Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi on July 3. I was thrilled at seeing the modern architecture of this airport which is the eighth largest airport in the world. It is a pride for the nation and certainly, foreign teams landing at this airport must be saying “wow.” It cost nearly US$ 3 billion and it was completed in a record 3-year time.
India is seen by the world community as emerging global power. The other day, an US official report reported that India is the third most powerful nation in the world after the US and China. Interestingly, India and China is competing each other in every field. And since China hosted successfully 2008Beijing Olympic Games, India would give its best to ensure that the Games at Delhi is a grand success.
Like India, China too drew flaks from around the world prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Even many organizations cautioned not to venture out in taking part in Beijing Olympic Games as there were chances of terrorist attacks. Many also had reservations on China’s policy of supporting countries like North Korea, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Sudan because they are repressive regimes. There were also allegations that there were heavy pollution in both the city of Beijing and in the neighboring areas and even many agencies asked countries to boycott the Games. They also said there would be violent disruption from pro-Tibetan protesters, and religious persecutions.
China came down heavily on their media not to report many things which would hamper the progress of the Games and discourage participating countries. In the lead-up to the Olympics, the Chinese government allegedly issued guideline to the local media for their reporting during the Games: most political issues not directly related to the games were to be downplayed; topics such as pro-Tibetan independence and East Turkestan movements were not to be reported on, as were food safety issues such as “cancer-causing mineral water.” As the 2008 Chinese milk scandal broke in September 2008, there was widespread speculation that China’s desire for a perfect Games may have a factor contributing towards the delayed recall of contaminated infant formula.
On the contrary, India being the largest democratic country in the world, has given so much leverage to the media including foreign ones. Even at times, they were making mockery of many leaders of the Organizing Committee in the event of crisis after crisis. Even some media houses have conducted poll at this crucial hour while foreign teams started coming in adversely affecting the environment in the capital, Games Village and country’s image worldwide. Yet, the media enjoy still freedom in this country.
Teams are coming in the midst of threats by some renowned international players pulling out alleging the Games Village is not safe for their health. But it is happy to hear encouraging words at this juncture from the mouth of IOC President Mr Jacques Rogge. In an interview on Friday, Mr Rogge said, “Let’s give them (India) the chance to prove they can stage good games. It would be with a last-ditch effort and it probably would be costly, but let’s hope they can fulfill that.”
Rogge said that he hopes India can come through, just as Greek organizers overcame “doomsday scenarios” to stage the successful 2004 Athens Olympics despite severe construction delays and political wrangling. “Hopefully the Indians can pull out a last-ditch effort like the Greeks have done,” he said.
He also asserted that India’s potential for hosting future Olympics should not be written off before giving embattled New Delhi organizers a chance to pull off the Commonwealth Games with a “last-ditch” effort.
Backing fully New Delhi, the IOC chief refused to judge New Delhi’s strength without seeing the Games. He even hoped that New Delhi’s planning to host 2020 Olympic Games could not be ruled out. One should not speculate without seeing reality. Similar sentiments were also echoed by Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Mike Fennell.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates’s remark that India should never have been awarded the Commonwealth Games is unwarranted. It is an insult any way.
The success of the Games at Delhi means 2020 Olympic Games coming in India. By then, what former Union Sports Minister Mani Shanker Aier said would prove “right.”
The Commonwealth Games, an Olympic-style multi-sports event, will have more than 7,000 athletes from 71 countries and territories. India will finally pull through and have enough experience of handling such a mega sporting event which they never had in the past. The success of this mega sporting event would push India’s image worldwide and have a say the right to host future “Olympic” in the country.
Let us hope India host 2020 Olympic Games and by the time, many sports personalities of the northeast and lovers would have a chance to witness what an “Olympic Games” is all about. Otherwise only top politicians (read sports ministers and chief ministers) from the region had chances to witness such events under the pretext of promoting sports in the region.