The 2010 Commonwealth Games to be hosted in the Indian capital New Delhi are just under two month's away and the problems seem to be getting bigger and bigger by the day. This isn't anything special for a city, a country hosting a major international sporting event but at the moment things seem to be getting out of control in India. For India hosting the Commonwealth Games is the biggest sporting event our country has ever hosted and also this is supposed to mark our entry into the world of sporting hosts with Asian Games, Olympics and a football World Cup down the road in the next decades. A failure in October 2010 could throw us back by a decade or more even with our economic rise.
But where are the problems? If one looks at the media reports there are to many to mention. Allegations of corruption, venues aren't ready yet while some are already crumbling under monsoon rains plus officials and politicians fighting each other over who should get the credit for things going well or who should be blamed for failure and mismanagement. And to top it all there is former sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar who is wishing the worst for the games so that the inabilities of certain sports administrators are exposed. That wouldn't be the worst only if India's interest weren't harmed in the process. This all sounds like a real life soap opera. And a really bad one.
The question I ask myself is India ready to host such an international mega-sporting event? I have been of the opinion, we will have problems but will manage to get everything in place in the last minute, but the closer the Commonwealth are getting the more doubts I now have. And I don't seem to be alone with my doubts as yesterday's statements from Baichung Bhutia show.
Baichung said in Kolkata, "We should not have taken a decision to host the Games. The infrastructure is not ready. Look at the situation, the grounds are not ready. Even in hockey, there are not many turfs in India. Even a nation like Malaysia is better-placed to host the Games. We should not have bid for the Games."
Harsh words from Baichung but he is known to speak his mind on pressing issues and not to take a diplomatic view just to please others. And in my opinion his views are spot on!
Instead of hosting the Commonwealth Games now, maybe hosting it in four or eight years would have been better. The funds would have been better utilised to create infrastructure now for youngsters to train and increase the participation in sports. That is India's biggest drawbacks besides qualified coaching and a system for overall sports development, irrespective of sporting discipline. And we also need young, dynamic people to come in and run sporting bodies to bring with them fresh, new ideas and not age old methods which don't seen to take us anywhere.
But still I hope the Commonwealth Games will be a success, but thereafter an overall clean-up needs to happen. Especially the media needs to ask for accountability and those found guilty for offences need to be pushed. But for now India and I mean the whole of India needs to focus on making the Games a success or otherwise our reputation will take a massive hit.