Game Up   (22 Aug 2008)

If one goes by the benchmark set by China for Beijing Olympics, it is hard to believe that New Delhi is even one percent ready for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. There are still no visible signs of any games infrastructure. Commonwealth games are no small event – they see participation from no less than 70 countries and are rightly called semi Olympics.

It took China eight years on a war footing to prepare itself for Olympics. In India, we have not even started the preparations. Before this situation causes international embarrassment for India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene and prod everyone responsible for getting the basic Games infrastructure in order.

China’s feat in hosting a flawless Olympics event will be immensely difficult to replicate. Just the opening ceremony in the Bird’s Nest in Beijing left everyone present flabbergasted with the magnificent show on display. Amidst all this glamour, the Indian contingent cut a rather sorry figure – the participants were ill-dressed and completely disorganized. Many unwanted people who part of Indian delegation were seen roving around aimlessly and partying at the hosts’ expense.

I wonder if we can prevent such freeloaders from ruining the Commonwealth Games in India. The signs are ominous and the Games could well turn into a national disgrace. In my view, people at the highest level should swing into action and stop the existing set-up from botching up.

The Asiad Games in 1982 were on a much smaller scale than Commonwealth Games, yet the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed her son Rajiv Gandhi to personally monitor and supervise the preparations. The Prime Minister herself took active interest in overseeing the preparations and kept their track on a daily basis.

Delhi Commonwealth Games are just one and a half year away, and we cannot possibly create the necessary infrastructure in such a short time. My only suggestion is to wait until Olympics get over and China begins dismantling its infrastructure, and then import the entire disbanded infrastructure – tracks and other equipment - from China. We should not shy away from taking Chinese consultancy to salvage the preparation of our own Commonwealth Games.

Rajeev Shukla