COMMONWEALTH GAMES After the ‘will it-won’t it’ debates, all hopes are pinned on the CWG’s success to save face after the literally crumbling plans. KAMESH SRINIVASAN
It will be a big challenge for the Indian athletes to wipe the bad memories of all the uncertainty in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, and make it memorable with their achievements. It was the high quality performance of the Indian athletes in the last two editions in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006, when they won 52 gold medals in all that had triggered hopes that it would be a double delight when the Games, united by one language in 71 countries, were to be held in Delhi.
However, “will the Games happen?”, has been the question doing the rounds, as Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit struggled to make enough number of towers “livable” at the Games Village, for the athletes and officials, when deadlines had to be pushed till the very eve of the Games. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) that had awarded the event to India seven years ago had been constantly warning the host through its president, Mike Fennell. The Jamaican had first said, “time is not your friend” and then “time is your enemy”.
All the warnings went unheeded, and the Organising Committee chaired by Suresh Kalmadi, and the other stake holders including the Union and Delhi Governments, responsible for setting up the infrastructure, made a clumsy job of it, despite spending public money lavishly in thousands of crore rupees.
In attempting to beat the Beijing Olympics that was superbly organised by the Chinese with remarkable efficiency and dominated with clinical accuracy, the Indian authorities fell flat on their face, because they forgot the basics. Even when all the expertise was available, India went about the job as if it was inventing the wheel for the first time.
Pictures of unhygienic conditions at the Games Village splashed across the world media with barely a week left for the Games, and that added to the withdrawal of many athletes who were worried about their health and safety. The Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the star of Beijing, had started the list of “pull outs” long back as the Games could not be fitted into his plan for dominating the London Olympics, and the list looked endless.
Well, the Games may be the launch pad for the future stars, but it would have been great if the participation of all the best athletes had been ensured. But, when we cannot ensure basics, we cannot ensure anything. It is a great tribute to all those athletes from Australia to Zambia that they asserted their commitment for the Games and ventured to the Indian Capital.
Even the Indian athletes, facing a lot of struggle for different reasons despite a large sum being dedicated for their training and preparation, went about their job with quiet resolve. It may be tough even to beat a depleted Australia, that has been consistently topping the medals table, but India would aspire to jump from being No.4, to finish second ahead of England and Canada, possibly with more than 50 gold medals.
The ultimate question would be — will Indian sports prevail over all the politics and corruption?… Over to the action.
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