It has been nearly a week since Delhi’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games 2010 has concluded. It was a revealing exercise. Yet, very little of the revelations were about actual sport. It is a tale of mismangement, corruption and disenfranchisement.
Before the realities started to emerge, the media brimmed with the notion that, similar to the hosting of the Olympics by Beijing in 2008, this was supposed to be India’s ‘I’ve arrived’ moment. This was an extremely odd assertion, since it seems that Indians themselves were not happy with the way the games were being delivered, and the Commonwealth Games are not exactly in the top tier of global sporting events (see the Olympics and World Cup).
Then the pictures of the filthy accommodation started being spread through social networks and the wider media like a Californian wildfire. It would have been good if a little soap and disinfectant were all that was required, but there were many other problems:
- Many athletes cancelled their appearance, while others waited until the last minute to arrive.
- The footbride to the Nehru stadium collapsed.
- Less than 24 hours before the start of the athletics competition, the opening ceremony damaged the track! Jonathan Edwards was not a happy man.
- Badminton, table tennis, gymnastics, netball all took place in huge stadiums with practically no spectators.
- The first few boxing weigh-ins were cancelled as the scale was messed up. The scale!
- Mounting concerns that the pool was making swimmer sick.
There are a number of lessons to be learned and questions to be asked. A friend of mine commented that ‘If yuh place nuh ready, nuh invite people in deh.’ I’ll take it a step further. Countries and cities do not make money from these large events. They are marketing platforms to reshape how the globe thinks about certain places. So if you are gonna engage in such an exercise, it is best to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.
The official games website is quoting Mike Fennell, the Games Federation Chief, noting that Delhi has delivered an ‘exceptional’ games. This may very well be the case. Yet, the obvious question that has to be asked is why weren’t the Games Federation monitoring the completion of the facilities? And after all the damaging off-track events, who is going to remember the sporting triumphs that did take place?
All these incidents, detracted in serious measure, from the actual sport. The actual sport, was the sideshow.