BBC BLOGS - Gordon Farquhar
« Previous | Main | Next »

Delhi's dress rehearsal

Post categories:

Gordon Farquhar | 22:42 UK time, Friday, 1 October 2010

To be honest, I was a little taken by surprise when the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony's dress rehearsal started 20 minutes early.

Things began inauspiciously when a stray dog legged it on to the running track and did a nifty 100m with about an hour to go before the scheduled start, and the floor manager had to do a lot of shouting to make sure people got off his cables.

One time-served freelance ceremonies expert sighed and said he expected things to get under way sometime "in the next 20 minutes or four hours", and was looking forward to taking delivery of the kit he had ordered to make various bits of the scoreboards work.

It has been a swelteringly hot day in Delhi: up to about 35 degrees... and I will be honest, the best thing about being here for the run-through, early on at least, was finding some properly cold water to drink.

But once the mozzie cream had been applied - no sprays, they are banned from the venues - and we got all the lines to work (I cannot tell you how stressful that part of our job is) it was time to settle back and take it all in.

Now, I am going to be here for real on Sunday, but before then I cannot give any of the details away as they are "under embargo". However, it is OK to paint a picture, in Technicolour. - that is with a capital T.

A balloon inside the Commonwealth Games stadium in Delhi

The Games will begin with Sunday's opening ceremony. Picture: Reuters

The ceremony is going to look fantastic on television. I watched a lot of it with a monitor next to me from the commentary position, and it works well.

And you will not be short-changed in the stadium either... it is a show that vibrates with the sounds and rhythms of India, majoring on the nation's culture and heritage rather than Bollywood glitz, but you would hardly expect that to be absent, would you?

Of course, it is meant to be spectacular, make you go "oooh". As with China in Beijing in 2008, this is India annoucing itself as the host of a major international sporting event, and it does so, to my eyes at least, with aplomb.

There is no escape from the pre-requistites of such ceremonies like the speeches, anthems, flag raising and athletes' parade, all of which at times spin the show out beyond most people's attention span, but such is the nature of the beast.

Watch the lot if you are a fan, make sure you see the start, then dip in and out if it is more of a passing interest!

Elsewhere today, the feedback on how preparations are going has continued to be more positive than negative. The England athletes I spoke to up at the village all said they felt it was well up to the mark.

Mick Gault made me laugh. The veteran shooter said he had heard all the media reports before coming to Delhi, adding of the set-up: "This one is one of the best I've seen. Before we came out there was all the bad press. We were all going 'oh my God - dengue fever, mossies and we're gonna die' but it's brilliant, it's really nice."

He is a man who is at his fifth Games, so his view has to be respected.

I am a bit concerned about the heat the hockey players are going to have to deal with... Their matches are scheduled all over, but some are due for the middle of the day.

Kate Walsh, England women's team captain, stated: "We're going to hope to play our game which is fast and attacking, and we're going to stick with that. There may be slight elements we're going to have to change with the heat." Yes Kate, I think you are right.

World champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nathan Robertson was properly chuffed to be chosen to carry the England flag in the opening ceremony.

He spoke of the adrenaline rush of walking into the stadium with the team. He also mentioned the bird perched on the net when he went in to check out the badminton venue as well... I guess that will be shooed out, along with the random stray dogs in the main stadium once things start for real.

If all goes to plan at the opening ceremony, they are going to get off to a dynamic and hopefully thoroughly enjoyable start on Sunday.


  • Comment number 1.

    Although the media has been very critical about the drawbacks they are not seeing the good part.When they are sensationalizing the bad news they should also see this. When commonwealth games veterans like Mick Gault are having a good opinion, things are not as bad as painted by the media. While BBC was quick in putting up the pics showing the faults of the game they should also see the good infrastructure built too...

  • Comment number 2.

    Atlast, the positive verdict is out..hoepfully, the western media project these positive attitudes of the atheltes to their countrymen and stop spolling India's image!

  • Comment number 3.

    Farquhar I liked your,

    "There is no escape from the pre-requistites of such ceremonies like the speeches, anthems, flag raising and athletes' parade, all of which at times spin the show out beyond most people's attention span, but such is the nature of the beast."

    I was immediately reassured you are speaking from the ground.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great to see a positive perspective for once. There seems to have been a recent sea change in mentality re the CWG.

    Whilst the BBC didn't help the image of the Games, it should be pointed out that the Indian media have been doing their best to breed nagativity for months. Whether it is the alleged corruption and construction delays, or more recently collapsing bridges (and beds), snakes and filthy rooms, there seems to be an unhealthy obsession with the whole event bringing "shame" to the people of India. With the Games almost upon us there has been a noticeable change of tone in the media, probably partly down to the increasing emergence of real news and events to report on rather than having to "sensationalise" minor mishaps, as princej said.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes, seems it will get off to a decent start. Hopefully, politician's won't spoil it by interfering in the proceedings a lot.

  • Comment number 6.

    The games are going to be good.Commentators in the west have a habit of criticizing a country which they think are not the chosen ones who are capable of hosting the games.They are the people who like to believe that tigers roam in the streets,snakes are found in every corners etc..They are the ones who cannot tolerate the growth of any other country apart from the chosen few and would make a big deal out of even a small glitch. South Africa was dubbed unsafe,Beijing was termed polluted etc...At the end of the day all the athletes are happy with the stadiums and the village.I am not saying that there were no problems ,but everything has been taken care off now.

  • Comment number 7.

    wow is it gordon who has written this article , since when u have learnt to write some positive things ?

  • Comment number 8.

    I am amazed at this article. Good Lord . BBC can write positive things also. You lot are the worst news reporters and i have made it a point to register myself to write about you here. It has taken so much money off tax payers and so much effort for doing what has been done. Listen to you atheletes in the villages they seem to have no problem. Dont listen to you kidneyless and liverless atheletes they duck under pressure they should be ashamed to call themselves atheletes. Competitions are pressure and pressure makes better atheletes. One of your atheletes comes on TV to say I want to stay alive for my children. I would have told him , why dont you wear your wifes dress and sit at home forever that would keep you safe. You can die any day any time whether you are in London or in India now. It is unsafe everywhere. For heaves sake if you dont want to loose your livers and kidneys stop the drinking culture here and get to some good training and comepete without makeing excuses . IF YOU HAVE A PROSPECT OF WINNING GOLD YOU WILL NOT BACK OUT WHAT EVER BE THE REASON. Start looking at positives also BBC you dont want to be held as a negative newspaper or website. But thanks for the positives finally. Am sure this games will be much better than any other common wealth games.

  • Comment number 9.

    Wow BBC wow.....somethin positive ?? couldn't believe my eyes/ears .....Let the games begin

  • Comment number 10.

    Its nice to hear some positive news from BBC,but it also contain the diplomatic way of telling and accepting the fact.I firmly beleive media like BBC should have behaved maturedly rather then behaving and writing all negative(No one axcept BBC knows when and how those pic were taken I am afraid it should not turn out at the end a shame full event for BBC)the .India is growing and developing now western world should start realising it and should respect India's capability coz there is some thing in India thats why it is growing.I request western media to please accept the fact and come and watch the Game and village it is amongst best in world and change their thought in postive side

  • Comment number 11.


    When the CWG completes, you will agree with me that it was CELEBRATION, not just CWG games.
    Every medal giving ceremony will be a CORONATION.

  • Comment number 12.

    BBC could have posted these positives as news itmes in its Website , but it chooses it to be a blog opinion only. Reason, most people won't read blogs but main news. West will no longer be too interested if its media start delivering the positive attitudes. Any media group requires trust and Well-wisher tag of its locals. So by projecting that Athletes are like US Marine who is going to Iraq-war like situation, the media groups exploits the sentiments of locals of its country.

    Indian Media has been critical and sentitive about the issues because firstly it wanted India to be seen as perfect host once the event starts and secondly for higher TRPs by relting National pride with the event.

    While western Media should appreciate the efforts of local India media to unearth the facts so as to help guests eventually, it should also project the positive but real Image of countires like India so as no one pulls out of any opportunity visitng such countires by judging through the negative media reports.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    What's wrong with the BBC? This positivity will not be tolerated.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't agree that the BBC have been deliberately painting a negative picture. Just look at the facts: late completion of facilities, bridges collapsing, 'uninhabitable' rooms, etc. Anyone who's ever been to India (and I have) won't be surprised by any of this - it's business as usual. But aren't we all missing the real issue which is terrorism. I hope it all goes well, but this still remains a prime target for nut cases and I have little faith in the Indian security services. Let's hope dirty bedrooms are the worst we have to bemoan.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    aces high,dont act like you dont have corruption in UK.Atleast we don't engage in fake wars killing millions of people...u can't even go to the toilet without the government watching you in your country.terrorist attacks?haha your government is very funny,it attacks itself and says its terrorist attack so that it can spend more on "security".

  • Comment number 19.

    Atlast BBC learned about being positive. I agree lot of initial issues are down to corruption..but while undertaking a major project like this.. issues tend to happen. Hope UK didnt forget about Heathrow Terminal 5. I know india will collect itself back and run a fantastic show. We are a nation for hospitality and i bet all these athletes will have their best time of their life. Lets turn our focus on games /KTDURAI

  • Comment number 20.

    It starts at 14:00 today folks

  • Comment number 21.

    These stories, then blogs, then reactions are always so predictable. First the media in search of stories will report in an exaggerated manner on issues in the lead up to an event (crime in SA, pollutioon in Beijing, infrastructure and heat in Greece, knife crime in Rome, event safety in Canada) etc etc. This is usually just to do with a cynical yet open press and nothing to do with any "British/Western superiority complex". Next a reaction will be whipped up in the host country and strident nationalists having had their insecurities bitten will be all over blogs like this aligning the writer's nationality with the reason for their criticisms along the lines of "typical Brit who can't get over empire" etc etc. This then invites their British counterparts to reply in turn in a similar manner and before you know it a child's playground of full blown argument is spiiing off about wars, empires, social issues and everything else under the sun silly people can find to use as a stick to attack another country.

    And then hidden in the background 95% of people will ignore all this, watch great events on TV, or if coming to the event meet normal people without shoulder chips who welcome them to the host city in a fantastic way and have a great time. I know I did in Beijing and I know if I were in Delhi now I would there also.

  • Comment number 22.

    What is the BBC playing at? Remember, your job is to be as negative and insulting as possible about everything Indian at *all times*. Where do you get off allowing someone to blog something that hampers that basic requisite? Watch out BBC, your taskmasters might not be too happy that you've slipped on the job. Mind you, it *is* only a blog and as such not likely to be seen by too many people so be safe in the knowledge that as long as you make sure to put as many one-sided photos of excrement/beggars/wild animals/rubble/child labourers etc. and negative/derogatory/condenscending/contemptuous remarks on the main pages you won't be making the faux-pas of making a more balanced portrayal or run the risk of tarnishing your image as one of the numerous, most loyal attack dogs of the pompous and condenscending Western media.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.