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India face Commonwealth Games worries

Gordon Farquhar | 19:52 UK time, Monday, 6 September 2010

India's Commonwealth Games preparations have been unusually fraught. The organisers have pretty much proved the old adage of "what can go wrong will go wrong".

There have been delays to the completion of venues, and there remain concerns that some stadium safety certificates might not be in hand in time for all the events to be held.

There's been the inevitable political wrangling, allegations of corruption, changes of personnel, and problems with sponsors pulling out.

Security personnel try to stop photographs near the waterlogged weightlifting stadium in Delhi

Security personnel try to stop photographs near the waterlogged weightlifting stadium in Delhi

Organisers have had the Commonwealth Games Federation breathing down their necks for months, and there's little evidence of the cordial warmth felt whenever the IOC's inspectors come to London to check up on things.

On top of that, a number of high-profile competitor withdrawals and no-shows have diminished the strength of the competition, particularly in track and field, and track cycling.

Star draws like Usain Bolt and Chris Hoy will be absent, along with a host of others.

For some, the timing of the games is all wrong for their prioritised events like world championships, others, like the track cyclists, haven't been helped by their international federation messing with the calendar. Frankly, some others just don't fancy it.

It's worth pointing out that the aquatic events will take place with strong fields, and there's the promise of an "Ashes" in the pool between the cocksure Australians and the ever-improving swimmers from the Home Nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

All told then, it's something of a nightmare for the organising committee... and it just got worse.

Adding insult to injury is the current spate of positive drug tests that have hit Indian competitors. In the past few days four wrestlers, a shot-putter and two swimmers, all in their respective Games squads, have tested positive for the stimulant, methylhexaneamine - its therapeutic use is for unblocking bunged up noses.

That might sound innocuous enough, but it's been on the banned list since last year, so the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) will hear no excuses.

The two most recently affected are the swimmers Richa Mishra and Jyotsna Pansare. Mishra was the top woman performer at India's recent national championships, with three individual gold medals.

It should be pointed out that both protest their innocence, and have asked for analysis of the B sample to be carried out, whilst making critical noises about the laboratory that carried out the tests.

However, Rahul Bhatnagar, the head of India's anti doping agency, (one of the newest, as India was late to the national anti-doping party) is quoted in the local media as saying the authenticity of their testing methods cannot be questioned, so there's a fight coming.

These failed tests follow a crisis for the Indian weightlifting team, who were punished to the tune of $500,000 (£325,000) by the International Federation for six positive tests last year.

Apparently, some of the money to pay the fine had to be borrowed as an interest-free loan from the Games organisers in order to make sure they are able to take part.

These are anxious times for the organisers, and just when they could do with some good news, their luck seems to be deserting them.


  • Comment number 1.

    Its always been like this in India...the last minute chaos...allegations...delays etc. Same was the case with Commonwealth Youth Games held around a year back.
    Anyways I think everything will fall in place by the time the games kick off in October.

  • Comment number 2.

    well organized article Gordon. Each single paragraph is one huge issue.

    I'm amazed at the incompetence of the authorities. How on Earth did they not look forward at least a couple of months ahead (rains! obviously are gonna cause problems, which is what happening now). Two to three months or so ago, Indian media (who now are thinking that they are doing one hell of a job by criticizing the authorities) knows what exactly is the progress, and what have they done? highlighted some swamiji sex scandals and celeb affairs. And then they woke up around a month ago, and started all the fuss about how this is gonna be a failure. If this the kinda of responsibility media of a nation assumes (nation in which corruption is quite popular and practiced more often and niftier than the rains in Chirapunji), what else can you expect. It's such a shame to even think that this was all inevitable & why bother now. It disgusts me how they weren't aware of the consequences of the failure in this.

    And I wonder why it is being hosted only in Delhi. Why not include other cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad & Mumbai etc. I can either hope for at least a mediocre show to the world or as few people as possible watch this _spectacle_

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't understand the reference to "cocksure Australians " -the link you gave is to the Swimming Australia site and I could find no material there which supports your expression... more like the opposite in fact. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place-I await your advice

  • Comment number 4.

    Bill Gates call the Indians the best and the brightest - and what do they have to show for it? heres a few poppadoms to go with that!!! The Commonwealth games was meant to showcase India's booming economy and as a springboard for an Olympic event..what have these best and the brightest (as they are referred) to show us? the opposite to intelligence!! The officials in-charge of the games have become stinking rich. They've managed to convert common wealth to personal wealth.

    If they can't build infrastructure in 7 years then how on earth they wanting to go to the moon and build infrastructure there.

  • Comment number 5.

    India boasts a 9.7% GDP growth this fiscal year.. What do they have to show for it? for one paying 12 cents a day to children to work on construction sites is no sign of a booming economy..they obviously can't afford to pay building engineers to build infrastructure. who ever heard of a $89 toilet roll and a $349 umbrella (the special kind).

  • Comment number 6.

    Even India that is supposed to have weathered the global economic downturn will be impacted by external events.

    Yet here is another situation where a nation is spending on an event that will have little long-term benefit to its population or reputation. Where is the up-side all I see his a huge reputational risk?

    Nations should look at the reality of these events, just look at South Africa post world cup. Huge stadiums small teams, no supporters...


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