Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Delhi: Done And Dusted?

India is scrambling to save face AND the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as big-name athletes pull out and some nations threaten to keep teams at home.
The $6 billion games (IF they happen!) will be remembered for a list of problems ranging from terror attacks to strikes, allegations of corrupt officialdom, and conditions described as unfit for human habitation: stray dogs roam the Athletes' Village, workers excrete in public, and homeless people live right outside the main stadium. To top things off, a dengue fever epidemic - partly blamed on stagnant water around unfinished construction sites - has hit Delhi, and thousands are being treated in local hospitals. On Tuesday a footbridge next to the main stadium collapsed, injuring 27 workers, and today a portion of ceiling collapsed above the weightlifting area. These accidents highlight the problems facing organisers as they race to complete work, yet the Indian government describes the problems as mostly minor mishaps!
Pass the poppadom, mum!
Delhi Games catering?
India saw the games as a great opportunity to display its growing global economic and political power, much as China did with the 2008 Olympics. Instead they are becoming a dangerous farce, with an Indian newspaper screaming out: "National Shame".
I believe if these games do NOT go ahead, there would be significant implications for their future. But instead of risking workers and participants AND India's now-sullied reputation, would it not be far wiser to delay the Games for a month? Even NOW this could happen, even though the opening ceremony is on October 3rd.
If the games are cancelled or compromised, it will not be a victory for any gun-toting terrorists - it may be a victory for common sense... and a lesson for the entire Commonweath. These sports events have become far too expensive for most nations to host, and the sporting focus has been overwhelmed by national ego.
Any hope of India using these games as a springboard for Olympic aspirations must now surely be dashed. And India must ask itself: having had nearly seven years to get its act together, why is it still desperately scrambling to retrieve pieces of broken poppadom from the dust of defeat?

No comments: