Monday, September 27, 2010

Commonwealth games - Failed before the exam!

Commonwealth games, it’s the hot topic these days in most commonwealth countries and is even making headlines elsewhere. Criticisms and controversies have been endless and it seems like games are doomed even before they begin. Even if they games go ahead and are successful, they are likely to be remembered for all that negativity during the lead up than for any sporting prowess. A friend encourage me to put my views on the same so here they are.

Saying that the infrastructure and preparation for the games was laggard is being too kind. The games federation gets 6 years to prepare the entire infrastructure and apparently they did nothing for the first three! Given that, infrastructure is somewhat ready is still a miracle. Despite all the criticism the fact is that the infrastructure for these games, at least on paper is far better than anything offered in any previous games. The questions are - is it ready? Is up to the quality promised? Answer to both questions in my mind is negative. The venues are not ready but I’d like to believe that they will be by the times games start. The quality of the stadiums should be up to standard but the village probably will never be. How a room can be as filthy as shown in leaked pictures is beyond my imagination. All things considered it is very unlikely that the CGF would have been planning to hand over the rooms in that condition. The other side of the coin is that that negative news always makes headlines in most of western countries and the statement on Australian and other team officials on their satisfaction with the facilities were conveniently left out. If you look at most Australian dailies 95% of news about India is negative. Surely India can’t be doing that many things wrong!!? There is lies the story. But who can blame the media, it only reflects what people what to hear and read.

On the important question of security; No one wants to risk lives for sports and I personally support this position. In all the travel advice and warnings on the threat of terrorism in India some things have been conveniently left out. Fact is India has faced terrorism for the past two decades and there have been numerous terrorist attacks in most major cities. However, I can’t remember security being compromised in any major international event. There was an incident during IPL last year but the even the outer perimeter wasn’t breached. Most attacks have been in unsecured vulnerable areas and given the nature of terrorism it’s impossible to guarantee safety and prevention from those. Threat of these attacks does seem larger in India but to the games, I can’t see why it would be different than in any other country.

But what about the hard hitting report by Australian journalist Mike Duffy and on complete inability of security from stopping him walk into Commonwealth games venue with a bomb! Many international athletes scared by the lax security started to pull out of the games! Delhi police immediately issued a response and explanation of why the report was false and what was wrong with the fabricated story. Of course no one in any western country bought any of it. As per the prevalent view Indian cops are corrupt and incompetent and they would rather trust a western media report than the Delhi police. But would you believe if you heard it from the west? CNN reported Parikshit Luthra exposed flaws in the story and ABC media watch did a complete story on unethical reporting and fabrication of the story. Don’t’ believe me? Here it is for you to watch

Getting back to the games, Can India host a successful commonwealth games? We surely can! Did we drop the ball on the lead up? Yes we did. Again, no matter how good the preparations might have been or how flawlessly the games could be executed, some countries would be looking to beat India down. They always do. All the more reason for everyone concerned to be on top of their game and get this done properly. Instead this exposed corruption and bureaucracy that India is all too well known for. All is not lost, at least India is a humble country and for all it failings will look inwards and in its own slow yet humble pace, change. West on the other hand continues to blow its trumpet and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. For them obviously all the problems lie elsewhere!

Have I been objective in writing this post? Definitely not, no one has been, why should I start? At least I don’t claim to be a journalist!

PS: Added 30/09/2010
All is not bad!

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