Obviously, there is a lot of media coverage in Australia about Delhi Commonwealth Games [Delhi CWG] which will start on 3rd October, 2010. Both, Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph have coverage on this today. ABC also had coverage on this yesterday.
Dani Samuels [Discus champion] has decided to withdraw from the Games but I was very pleased and indeed, encouraged to read that our swimmers and divers [Alex Croak, Matthew Mitcham and Geoff Huegill] have declared their intention to go to the Games. They made this very clear via a Blog [ http://tinyurl.com/273cb7k ]. I also know that the Sports Minister, Senator Mark Arbib will also be going to Delhi. I say “good on you” to participate in the Games in Delhi.
I know that some sports authorities from certain countries including New Zealand have made a lot of alarmist comments about the Delhi CWG which seems to be creating panic and hysteria against the Delhi Games. A firing at a tourist bus near a mosque a couple of days ago has of course fuelled concerns about the security around the Games. A few building work problems, which have been characterised as minor by Indian officials, have received prominent reporting in the media.
Having come from New Delhi myself where I lived for several years, I do believe that some of the comments in the media are actually very unhelpful because they are creating hysteria against the Delhi CWG. Something similar was floating around in the media about Athens Olympic Games only a couple of years ago. Despite that, Athens Games were greatly successful. Similar concerns were raised in the media against South African soccer world cup but they were all proven to be incorrect.
My belief is that India would be able to deliver a successful Delhi CWG. My belief is based on following:
The firing on the tourist bus a couple of days ago happened in the old part of Delhi which is grossly congested and has narrow lanes. That part is not particularly safe even in the best of times. I do not think we would have the same situation in the Games arena or the places where sports people will be staying. Games are not happening in Old Delhi. Of course, it is important for all people including sports people to be mindful of the security environment before they venture out to areas which are generally a “no go” area in any city anywhere in the world. I myself would not go to Old Delhi unless it is extremely necessary.
The Games facilities will be ready by the time the games start on 3rd October 2010. They still have 10 days before the commencement of games. Only minor work, mostly cleaning, is yet to be done. The athletes village will be up and running with all the facilities by the time the games start. The organisers and workers are working round the clock to get things done within days. It is of course disappointing, and to some extent embarrassing for us as Indian Australians to see the delay in getting the facilities ready. Unfortunately, Delhi had 60-70% more monsoon rains this year which of course has added to problems but all stadia are already ready. I have seen the photographs and comments of this fact.
India has had terrorist attacks and they have mostly originated and been masterminded from across the border. Just like London, Bali, New York or Madrid, New Delhi will not be immune to a terrorist attack. Having said that, I do not believe there is a very high chance (contrary to the claims in various media outlets) of a terrorist attack during the Games. I argue that the chance of a terrorist attack is minimal. The reason for this is the fact that India has conducted IPL games without any untoward incident for a couple of years. In IPL games, there were many non-Indian players. The Indian security apparatus including Indian army will provide a fool proof security for the venues and places where the games will be conducted. People should not forget that India holds two big national events every year, namely the grand parade on the Independence Day (15th August) and Republic Day (26th January) when the whole political leadership including Prime Minister is present in the Parade venue, without any incident. India can provide guaranteed security for a demarcated place or places but like any country in the world, it can never guarantee every place from terrorism. Sports arenas and athletes village will be demarcated places and Indian security apparatus is fully capable to do its job to protect them.
There have been concerns raised about Dengue fever in Delhi. These concerns have created an unnecessary alarm. Delhi is not the only city in the world which has Dengue fever. Dengue fever is a problem in congested places such as slums or shanty towns but I do not believe sports people will be visiting or staying in those places. The athletes village will, I believe, not have the situation where sports people will be impacted by Dengue fever. Of course, they have to follow the advice about avoiding mosquito bite which will be given to them by their own medical advisors as a matter of course. I and my family visit Delhi every year and have never suffered from Dengue fever. Preventive measures, of course, are crucial for every visitor.
There is a tendency in the international media to hype up and often exaggerate the issues in India which tends to create an unnecessary alarm among those who are going there. The issues are there but they are not insurmountable. India will prove the alarm creators wrong and will hold a successful CWG.
Undoubtedly, India should have been ready with the construction and building works at least three months before, but this did not happen, leading to much embarrassment for everyone including India as a nation and Indians all over the world. There is a culture in India which we often call “Chalta Hai” which basically means that everything will be alright even when it does not appear to be the case. Before the D day comes, we create unnecessary chaos but however still deliver the outcome. This culture needs to change with some significant speed. We need to start following targets in a timely fashion. We need to start delivering outcomes in a planned and timely manner.
There is no doubt that the credibility of India and Indian Government is on the line but having known India so well and having spoken with high ranking officials from the Government, I believe that India will deliver a very successful CWG.
Jai Ho to Delhi CWG 2010 and Jai Ho to all the participants in these Games!
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/22nd Sept, 2010