I had written a blog entry on August 5 with the headline "2010 Commonwealth Games: A disaster waiting to happen?" and now it sadly seems to becoming a reality. I remember a couple of month's back friends back in New Delhi who are involved with the Commonwealth Games told me, don't worry we have numerous problems which aren't public, but we will sort them out. It sounded to me typically Indian not to worry about problems which are weeks away, then we will take care of them in the final hour.
Now it seems this approach, large scale corruption, mismanagement, bureaucracy and the ambition to compete with China on the global sporting stage could haunt New Delhi and the first-ever Commonwealth Games on Indian soil. Things seem to be so bad that the CWG committee could consider calling off or postponing the games. And that would be a disaster and a national shame for India plus a major blow to the Commonwealth Games and its future.
Now the only issue is to salvage the situation. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has gotten involved, way too late, but he realises that the aftershocks will surely hit the brand India, his UPA government and the local Congress government in Delhi. The Commonwealth Games were envisaged to announce India's arrival on the global sporting stage, now it seems it could highlight India isn't ready for something so big. Hopefully the organisers of the 2011 Cricket World Cup and the Formula 1 India Grand Prix will learn their lessons. Luckily they are mainly privately organised and run, so will not face most of these problems.
But there is one thing will annoys me. Especially Australia, New Zealand and England seem to stress on the danger of terror. I was in Delhi a few days back and it was fully safe. Actually there are many more checks then we are used to in Europe. It seems to me that some nations have been looking for reasons to try and stay away, so terror fears seem to have been the best bet. Luckily for them they have found other legitimate reasons in accommodation, crumbling infrastructure, monsoons and dengue. What would they be doing otherwise...
But an Indian failure will not only have implications for our country, but for emerging nations in general. Especially Brazil will now come under the radar as the South Americans are set to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Stadia construction and redevelopment are already delayed, which will come under much higher scrutiny following the examples of New Delhi. And developing nations bidding for large scale international sporting events will have their problems as sporting bodies might now go with the safe bets to ensure successful tournaments and games.
Take e.g. the 2018 FIFA World Cup, England's bid to host could gain more international support as questions over Russia's capabilities will now rise. Especially after their handling of the catastrophic bush fires this summer. India is not only harming itself, but emerging nations in general.
My only hope is now that India can somehow pull it off and not embarrass itself completely and the people behind all this chaos are taken to task. I know that is a big ask, but lets see if anything happens...