Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010: A City that was Never Prepared as a Host!

The biggest sporting spectacle on Indian soil is unfolding in plush stadiums of Delhi today. The largest contingent of international athletes for any Commonwealth Games in the history has descended in India’s showcase capital. With over 15 billion dollars in expenditure, it is the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.

So one would probably imagine that the stadiums would be jam-packed? There would be long queues outside with impatient spectators? Well, yes it is jam-packed with security professionals and filled with impatient security marshals but no spectators! The stands are empty, the seats are vacant, and the galleries are deserted. The world’s biggest democracy is unmindful of its own accomplishment of holding the biggest sporting spectacle.

Empty Stands of CWG 2010 at Delhi

I do not find it odd though. This is an expected outcome. The international media is speculating on lots of reasons for Delhi’s non-attendance in the sporting arenas. It has placed its bets on perceived corruption related disrepute, high security cover, less number of ticket stalls and difficulty in getting online tickets and confusing information about events on Commonwealth Games’ website etc. I am laughing at these reasons. They are not the real reason at all. These are western world’s reason for non-attendance. The real Indian reason is far more shameful and that’s why no one seems to get it.

The real reason of this shameful non-attendance is not corruption. India queues up in millions to cast votes for people with excellent corruption skills- proven beyond doubt over ages, every few years. We can smell out money making corrupt ways in the most creative ways and we are immune to corruption. Corruption is not the reason why Delhi is not coming to watch the Commonwealth Games. Everyone expected the Commonwealth Games to be a corrupt affair and our great leaders delivered that faithfully just to prove that our belief was not a misplaced one.

The reason is not also the unprecedented security cover. Delhi is immune to it. With close to 5000 pea brained VIPs in the capital, Delhi is used to the security infested tamasha. It is no deterrent.

Neither is lack of ticketing booths and difficulty of information a reason. Come 2011 and Delhi would host World Cup Cricket games where to make money the BCCI will award a ticketing partner and a handful of those booths will dispense tickets to millions. No, lack of ticketing booths is not a reason. Delhi can handle that.

So what is the real reason? Ok, let me help you find “that” reason. Lets play a game and then lets tell you the reason. Ready?

Question1: How many players are there in netball game team? (no don’t go to google!)
Question2: How many sets are there in a lawn bowl game? (Wikipedia is also not allowed!)

Question3: What is the difference between Team Pursuit and Time Trial?

Question4: What are the different criteria based on which a diver’s performance is measured?

Question5: What are the different swimming styles?

Any average Delhite would score a perfect 0 out of 5! They just do not know what the hell are these games about. And that is the real reason; we the Indians are NOT sports conscious. We ignore sports and we don’t understand and relate to more than a handful of sports.

Our great leaders who thought to bring Delhi International fame by spilling billions of dollars from whole Indian taxpayers’ pockets; evaded every rule book to decamp with billions in corruption which after the games will forever meander in blind legal alleys and special parliamentary committees; rounded up the poor and the beggars to throw them in Bawana jhuggis; erected tall structures some of which fittingly came down; turned a city to a veritable fortress; somehow clawed to make things work at the 11th hour and thought the only way to seize the international limelight was through creating a 2 hours’ long wonderful joyous escapism of an opening ceremony, forgot one very important aspect.

They forgot the people of Delhi. They forgot the community integration such a large event needs. It needs the people to be ready for the great event. Where was any community event to build up sports as an exponent of our daily lives? Where was the education needed for people to understand what the 7 players of netball try to achieve or why is the approach, the flight and the entry such critical pieces of diving or for that matter how different is the track bike from the regular ones. Without these awareness these sports means nothing to anybody.

In one of my previous blogs, I had mentioned that we the Indians are not a sports loving country. Now after spending 15 billion dollars and getting the international heckling for shoddy workmanship and corruption charges and a false inflation of national pride through a 2 hours long well planned and executed spectacle, our dark secret is about to be revealed. The secret that we not sports lovers- a big slur on a country which hosts a game like this!

Finally, today a friend of mine brought an amazing piece of information. He said that the tickets for 2 games are sold out. They are women’s swimming and women’s gymnastic! Knowing Delhi for these many years, I know exactly why this has happened. I hope we just end here, with the shame that we are corrupt, unprofessional, poorly administered bunch of non-sports lovers and not ALSO with the medallion of Delhi’s most notorious crime statement against women.

Alas Delhi was never prepared to host this event.

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34 Responses to “Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010: A City that was Never Prepared as a Host!”

  1. Arnab Says:

    Very interesting observations. Unfortunately, I don’t give a damn about the Commonwealth Games. There are only 2 sports worth watching – football & F1, and only 1 worth playing – football. Hail MUFC! 😀

    • manasij Says:

      ah… you surprised me with this comment. i thought you are opinionated about almost everything under the sun, just as I am 😉

  2. Baidik Says:

    The cultural stereotype is sadly true. While I do not intend to start a North/South debate; all things sports, quizzing and generally intellectual are best kept to the South or East of the Vindhya’s.

    With Kalmadi as a representative of our Sporting tribe, it’d be blasphemy to expect better. On a lighter note, this is where we’re missing a certain Mr.Modi 🙂

    But come to think of it Manasij, the thing about a ‘Sports period’ has to do with the average Indian middle class’s insecurity about economic multipliers. Which explains why most of our athletes are from a particular socio economic background.

    • manasij Says:

      Baidik,
      Yes the economic implications are always there.
      Till the time sports is accepted as a profession and also permeates into the lifestyles, we will continue to see these failures in Noth, South, East , West everywhere in India.

  3. Rashmin Says:

    Well said we had seven years to prepare for the games but not a single prep events in various cities to show us new sports we could see a CWG. Hell I do not know who the sports participants are apart from a select few. Look at how SAI is run. It’s an employment exchange for candidates looking for a secure government job under the sports quota. Till idiots run sports federations on our tax payer money with no accountability sports in India is doomed. Let’s privatise the whole sports development program and only then we could see people showing up for sports events

    • manasij Says:

      Rashmin,
      How very true.
      The empty stands would be a great embarrassing thing for the government.
      It would anyway mean that the country/city did not want the games but their leaders wanted for the sake of their names in the history books.
      If only we could learn a bit from China on organizing a games!

  4. Baidik Says:

    But this is where you gotta give Dilli a ten-on-ten: the impromptu ‘Boo..’!

  5. Aditya Says:

    Excellent blog post. It really hits the nail on head.

    There could be a number of historical reasons why Sports come so low in our (Indians) priority list. IMO, they are poverty, the class system that that put educated elite (brahmins) on top compared to any other profession/activity, and higher focus on art & culture than physical activities in general.

    But even in this day and age, rather than encouraging kids to get in to Sports, the focus is still on ‘padai’, ‘degree’, ‘MNC job’ and the likes. How many schools have a decent playground, forget sporting equipment? And out of the schools that do have them, how many actively encourage Sports? (One 30 minute PET period in a week, really?)

    And how about us at home? How many of us actively encourage our younger siblings/kids to play any sport regularly? How many of us are taking them out to these events? Just to expose them to top sports people from around the world, the atmosphere, the joy, the triumphs ..
    (Taking them to Mussorie mall road for ice cream right now is not the best use of their vacations.)

    Well, sorry for the rant, but this topic is pretty close to my heart as well. I just hope we can improve as a nation when it comes to Sports (& cleanliness & etiquettes & ..). I am an optimist and hope we do become a real sports loving country in my lifetime itself. But the change in mindset has to come from us only, at our homes first.

    • manasij Says:

      Aditya,
      As expected, a great response from you.
      Great that you pointed out that we also do not make best use of the childhood times of our progeny when we can shape them to be interested in sports.
      Love of sports is to be sown in the children pretty early (rather than an ice cream on Mussorie mall)

  6. Abhishek Says:

    hi Manasij

    I agree with most of the things what u have said but I think if you ask any of those question to any common citizen of any other country u will get the same result until that sport is very popular in that country.

    I used to think same way before but it changed when I really went to buy tickets, I am really surprised by the amt of people waiting to buy tickets and also a lot of sports events other than women swimming and gymnastics 🙂 is sold out.

  7. Jishnu Says:

    I just glanced through the blog, need some more time to go through. My eyes got stuck at one point.

    Can an average chinese tell how many players are there in a Kabaddi match?

    Can an average chinese tell what is ‘Gully’?

    Both the sports are there in the 2010 Asian games, which is supposed to be hosted in China.

    Does this mean chinese are not sports lover?

    In fact an average american will hardly know anything other than basketball, football, michael phelps, baseball.

    It is not that I differ from your viewpoint largely. Just that there could be loopholes.

    I am expecting to come up with a bigger reply soon.

    • manasij Says:

      @Jishnu,
      I think I had better wait till you post your full reply before responding to it.
      Cheers,
      Manasij

  8. Gaurav Nigam Says:

    @Manasij,

    I appreciate your thoughts. Adding to it…its not only about delhi/mumbai/kolkatta/chennai, infact India was not prepared to host these games, be what ever the place attendance would have been the same. I think there are several reason to this, like lack of infrastructure at school level, proper coaches, job assurance to athletes, lack of academes , respect for athletes. So we are not able build enough enthusiasm among people to get motivated to learn athletics, which is there for cricket. Now a days, parents could sent their children to realty shows on TV than to train them for track n fields event. Simple reason you can’t guarantee a livelihood in athletics. Exceptional cases are there like Abhinav Binidra who were self sufficient to get trained abroad and need not to worry about livelihood. Unless government will provide basic infrastructure, job guarantee, respect to athletes, this country will continue seeing similar attendance on stadiums.

    • Ashish Says:

      @ gaurav- agree with you, and as I mentioned in my comments that cricket is what we mean by sports in India, nothing else and the reasons you cited are true.

      Everyone will like their children’s to score a century and play like Sachin Tendulkar.. but I doubt anyone would support for gymnasium or any athletics. though as you said Abhinav Binidra was self sufficient.. right but ask any average indian..you will see a question mark on a face, if you ask about Abhinav Binidra… 🙂

    • manasij Says:

      fully agree with you on this.
      its painful that sports has such lower priority in our lives.

  9. Ashish Says:

    I agree with you Manasij, but as already said, the main reason I see is the lack of facilities, education , economic factors and above all the importance that is given to sports in our society.

    Even before a child comes in, parents have huge expectations already set in – for him/her to be a Doctor, Engineer, IT professional and it starts from day one with saving money for child education, planing for sending him abroad for higher studies.. I know everyone wants their children to be most successful but term successful in Indian society has other meanings..

    We all must have seen movies and likes movies “Tare Jameen par” and “3 idiots”, but I don’t think people have learned what exactly the lesson was there…

    Coming back to the lack of sports knowledge and interest, I agree and yes I scored 0 out of 5 in your game.. 🙂

    But, if you ask something on cricket I can bet everyone will score 5 out of 5, you may make any level of game/questions on cricket. this is what our society is made of .. money and glamor. You ask people and I am sure many must not be aware that Hockey is our national game which has always got least priority and thats the reason hockey players have nothing much with them. you talk of media, bhaji is having affair or Yuvraj going out in night from a hotel in chandigarh is more important news for them, so its all business.. it’s in demand and cricket industry(not sport) is flourishing with different formats and games growing.

    This is indeed a disappointing and good that you bought this blog on our understanding and interest in sports.

    @Abhishek, you may be right that many of the sports events have tickets being sold out. But did you tried to find out the reasons behind that, I was reading that around 30% of the seats are reserved for VIP’s and their families, and above all I can say that tickets selling must be a another medium of corruption nothing above that.

  10. farazs Says:

    By God, you’ve got this bang-on!! ROTFL through and through.

  11. Parth Joshi Says:

    I would disagree here, while not 10 million in a country over a billion might know what lawn bowls is, a thousand still do, and we have a team that is participating without hardly anyone knowing, but think for a second, the players know what lawn bowls is, so do the coaches and their kin and so it spreads. We might not be sporting at times, but that doesn’t imply we are nor good sportsmen. Knowledge is all about individual curiosity and the desire to learn and cannot be ascertained on a societal structure or a thought mold as a whole.

    On the same premise, considering our knowledge on sports equals null, what kind of a spirit would go ahead and execute such a multifarious event – desire to shine? ego? show off?

    • manasij Says:

      Dear Parth,
      The questions were just used an example to elucidate the fact that we know very little of the sporting events going on in the CWG.
      I logic is “because we are not a sports loving nation, we are not thronging the venues” and not “we are a sports ignorant nation”.
      Love of sports is more important than knowing the nitty-gritties of the rule book.
      Since our society does not have sports as one of its important piers, we happen to suffer from this detached view.

      • Parth Joshi Says:

        For the audience, the reason for that might be the various security shackles that we’re forced to abide by.

        For instance, a cricket match in say, SA or Australia is a place where one can sit down and have an outing with friends, enjoy some food and drinks and go back. Whilst with us here, it implies a 2-3 hour long queue, minimals to be carried inside (even water is not allowed in certain places) and an atmosphere which is a din of the not so happy and comfortable kind.

        What I means to say is if attending a sports event is made a tad easier, we would have a substantial increase in the attendance. And this is where the Catch -22 situation lies as I see it – twixt security and entertainment.

        • manasij Says:

          I do not find many people echoing the same Parth.
          The IPL had a huge security bandobast. I was frisked at 10 diff places before allowed entry. The queue was a mile long and took ages to reach to my seat.
          People are not troubled by security when they are excited and ethusiastic- so they wont mind a cricket game.
          For lawn bowl, it is impossible to comprehend anyone agreeing to that because they do not have enough excitement for it.
          End of the day, the NO SHOWS in the stadiums is simply because of apathy towards these international sports.

  12. Dipankar Says:

    Reading all the views, one fact stuck me. The reason cricket and football are so popular in India is mainly because of the funds that are required to get involved in these events.

    Eg- For Cricket, which resembles the Gilli-Danda game, can be kicked off with a stick and a Paper roll. Football can be started off with a small 20 rs ball or a balloon or a rock piece if one wants to. A few other games also can be played like that within a small area with almost no resources.

    But for most other games, you need resources ranging from place to equipments and obviously cost. Cycling competitions can be won by practicing with Carbon frame bikes on wonderful roads while swimming practice needs large clean water bodies available. Tennis and ping pong have the same stories to tell. The list continues long.

    No wonder that the nation is a poor one, or may be the mindset of people are poor. I remember when I wanted to buy a new cricket ball, I had to beg like anything in front of my parents or play with a rock piece or a broken ball. Once I remember even stealing a used cricket ball for which I repent till today.

    And today when I am earning, I am putting in all my earning into sports. Its so much more fun than a boring life of going to office. Wish I had the right motivation from family (which is a part of the society) in the beginning days.

    Its us who are to be blamed. Even today, we do not ourself know much abt sports, coz many think, sports, except for cricket, has no money. The face of sports in India will change the day all of us individuals actually start involving into sports in our daily life and encourage others to do the same.

    No wonder, countries with much lesser population can beat the 2nd most populated country in almost all events!!!! India is happily shown down in most international events, even media stays out of pointing out those failures!!

    • manasij Says:

      fully agree with you Dipankar…….
      however, there is a small catch about the cost of sports.
      athletics is probably the cheapest to do as you do not need much for running, jumping etc.
      football is again a poor man’s game.
      the larger problem is not the cost of associating with it is with the lack of social recognition as a viable regular routine exponent and an option for career building.
      till the time we want doctors/engineers/mba and these only, the options for sporting is just that limited….

  13. arpana Says:

    Keen observation! Delhite are simply not sports conscious or too busy in their mundanes or out of security concerned– or do not care about the corruption infested events.

  14. Mathew Says:

    Manasij, while your blog is nicely written, I think it is typical of the cynicism that most indians practice.
    Surely, not all is well in everything that happens when indian and politics is in the same sentence.
    But there is an overdose of cynicism going around. I understand you playing to the gallery when you chose a topic like this, but dont we have a lot of other ‘real’ issues around?
    Why aren’t we talking about women rights, student rights?
    I say this because a society that has its women and children well taken care is a prosperous society.
    Dissecting your blog, you lost me when you asked the questions.
    Honestly I dont see the relevance here though I understand that knowledge of the sports could be a good thing, I hope you realise that 8 out of 10 Americans would not know where India or Singapore is on a map/globe. They are still successful as they come.
    I write a very active blog too and I am pretty sarcastic but I’ve seen a trend where we bloggers pick a topic that we know is a perfect scapegoat and then beat the living daylight out of it. I think a responsible blogger like you should have picked a more responsible topic that would have given its readers food for thought rather than playing to the gallery.

    • manasij Says:

      Dear Navin,
      Thanks for your comment.
      There are 2 issues you have raised in your comment and I would like to put forward my views on them.

      1. Choice of Topic: You are quite right in pointing out that there are many relevant problems that may deem fit for a responsible and serious blogger to blog on.
      I completely agree with you on this. I also agree that there is a lot of cynicism in the media/blogsphere about the CWG.
      And by choosing the same topic I may have inadvertently opened myself for the label of an opportunist populist trying to attract readers by romancing their subliminal cynicism.
      However, I must point out that I have not taken the swipe at the CWG from the favorite bashing grounds of mismanagement/corruption etc.
      9 months back I had put a blog post that India is not a sports loving society by large and I saw some real vindication of my standpoint in the run up to this event.
      This blog is therefore wholly dedicated to why the CWG failed to strike a chord with a city despite its International tag.
      BTW, my previous blog was about the Ayodhya Issue which is a pretty important issue for India and it is crafted in a tone completely in contrary to the popular perception of it being a great step forward.

      2. Relevance of The Questions: That was a very simple case study to elucidate that people are ignorant of the various international sporting disciplines.
      It was just an elucidation, period. In one of my replies to a reader’s comment, I have mentioned that it is not important to memorize the rule book to enjoy a sport.
      One can simply enjoy sports if you are excited and enthusiastic about it. The love for sports is more important than familiarity with rules etc.
      My logic is simple. The fact that there are not enough spectators in the stadiums is a ramification that we are not a sports loving society.
      Now, why we are not a sports loving society has been briefly touched upon here but it discussed in broader detail in one of my previous posts, duly linked here for any deep diver.

      Finally, I am a casual blogger and a real sporting aficionado. I use my blogs primarily for sharing my mountain biking sojourns and for expressing my views in topics very close to my heart.
      I am heavily opinionated but do not feel obliged to comment on everything going around me.
      And I always say this: this blog is like a buffet dinner, load your plate if you like the taste, move on to next plate otherwise 🙂

      Thanks a lot for stopping by and putting your comments though.
      Please share your blog link 🙂

      Cheers,
      Manasij

  15. umapoems Says:

    very well written blog….like it

    and what a long comments !..well you deserve the best

    If you like something about my blog,do VOTE ME!

    http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=34845
    Your Vote counts for me!

  16. Layman Says:

    All i can say after reading this blog is that i am glad that we are hosting CWG.
    Hosting events like these educate people about sports like netball etc….If there were no CWG, you wudnt hv mind to write this blog…
    and talking about Indians being sports loving…
    I thnk India is full of people like Arnab :D..who wud love to watch a EPL on tv..and say he loves football..but he wudnt dare to spend 50-100 Rs to watch an Indian league match live in a stadium….
    and blame the govt for the poor quality of our sports..

    • manasij Says:

      Dear Layman,
      15 billion dollars is a steep price to pay for “awareness”.
      At a fraction of this cost the entire educational institutions could have been made capable of holding these sports as part of curriculum.
      You would have seen much more sports awareness and players and with a much wider reach.
      Can not intelligently comment on why Arnab does not watch Indian football but I guess the reason is lack of quality.
      As a football lover, I feel bored to watch Indian football and find much more better viewer experience in EPL/La Liga etc.
      Same is true in Indian motorsports vs F1 and WRC.
      Anyone watching any international sports would get my brownie points for being a sports lover.

    • Arnab Says:

      @ Layman: Even though Delhi is hosting the CWG, I don’t give a damn about it. So your first premise, that awareness leads to trials, fails miserably as far as I am concerned.
      Secondly, I would not spend 1 paisa on watching Indian football, forget Rs 100/-. Indian football had its chance and lost it when it refused to participate in the WC because they had to wear shoes. And I hold the government totally responsible for the demise of football in india – what do you expect when a politician holds the highest office in AIFF for 30 (or is it 40) years? The government (of any political leaning) cares only about its votes, and voters are not interested in sports because they have more important things like food, water & electricity to worry about.
      Thirdly, any sports has 2 objectives – provide entertainment for the audience, & make everyone appreciate important human talents (speed, teamwork, vision, etc.). Indian football fails miserably on both counts. I don’t have time to waste on non-performers.

  17. Layman Says:

    @manasij and Arnab:

    i dont knw if u agree or not..at the end of the day everyone wants to earn some money..
    Do you thnk EPL will survive if the people stop watching it?
    If you dont give a damn about whts going on in AIFF…these politicians ll hold these offices for nxt 100 years…you cant change the society without being part of it..
    i agree with u tht sports has 2 obj…ent and showcase of human talent…
    indeed it has third one too..
    its businesss too…which is i guess more important thn other two in todays world…
    lets get back to the 1st point.
    Entertainment: when there is no audience who they’ll provide entertainment for…and
    second one…if there s no one to appreciate their talent…how do u expect them to make an effort to improve….but still they are….i dont knw whts keeping them alive..
    There is a lot of politics and corruption in BCCI tooo…but still Indian cricket team is doing good..

    yeah i agree with you tht with 15 billion $ spend on educational or sports institutions we would hv seen much….but atleast CWG was an excuse to built or improve the infrastructure…

    i am a football lover too…a big liverpool fan..i knw there is vast difference between the standard of indian football and those in europe or americas ..but still its not bad…its watchable..the team needs support, i dont expect it from the govt..but atleast there shud be a fan following…

  18. Pramodan Says:

    Hi Manasij,

    Sad to read it.
    I would like to mention my experience of CWG youth games held in Pune in 2008. The atmosphere in city was filled with that sports event. Public transport was arranged for it. There was very tight security – car parking was horrible. Also they denied entry for any person holding mobile phone(s) and this they made clear when you were about to enter (there were no warnings before). You had to leave it in the car. So I hiked all the way back to car and did just that. Went in to the sports village after all this and I was happy I did that. There was a crowd milling around. A lot of them were youngsters. They were queuing up at all events, learning about them, watching them, supporting players and underdogs in duals. Atmosphere was charged, one could feel it. It was a positive experience for me.

  19. priyank Says:

    we love a spectacle not a sport. for the same reason IPL sells because its a tamasha and there are empty stands during a north v/s east ranji trophy game. Religion, Bollywood and Cricket is the toy handed over to the general population by the great democracy so as to allow those who are corrupt and powerful to “lead” the nation while the general public is busy playing with the rainbow colored toy.

    quote “They are women’s swimming and women’s gymnastic! Knowing Delhi for these many years, I know exactly why this has happened.” unquote.

    and you noticed it right Manasij, WTF’k ,India needs more strip clubs than sporting arens. would you agree?

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