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India, the perfect location for the Games

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John Beattie | 19:24 UK time, Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Do you know what? India is the perfect location for the Commonwealth Games.

I've been here three days and it has been a more culturally enriching process than Melbourne, and more uplifting than Manchester. If Glasgow can capture half of the sheer joy of India then it will have done well.

To all the people who have called off: you have let yourselves down and your countries down. Most of all, you have let India down, and this is the country whose citizens make up half of the entire Commonwealth.

I want to go into this in a bit more depth in my next blog but our Western attitude needs to be adjusted.

There is a pompous Britishness that expects perfection, when we don't even get perfection at home. And it's good for the West to get a glimpse at what really happens in the world, and not just by watching Judith Chalmers on the Holiday Programme.

What do you mean it's no longer on?

Besides which, I like imperfection. Nothing is perfect. I am, for instance, a shambles.

Newsround's Sonali Shah and Sport Monthly's Katie Still join John at India Gate

Newsround's Sonali Shah and Sport Monthly's Katie Still join John at India Gate.

It's strange when you have a couple of days you think you will remember all your life. Yesterday was a day of filming links at India Gate for Sport Monthly's Commonwealth Games preview programme. It's a huge, stunning archway built for fallen heroes and as the sun sets it is bright with pink glory.

Locals and visitors come to promenade in perfect heat and marvel at a stunning location. I got the chance to meet Sonali Shah, the Newsround presenter, who was also filming links here, which demanded a picture.

Today was a day off - the last, we have been told - and we had a long walk past men who chase the dragon on the streets (I thought they were shooing persistent monitor lizards) and we meandered among tuk-tuks to get to the appropriately named Kwality curry house.

After 12-hour days it was good. And it struck me - we have exactly the same in Glasgow.

The Commonwealth Games grip Delhi, along with John Travolta's holiday in India, of course. The Scottish athletes are to the fore in newspapers with Willie Wood on page one of the Times of India.

The Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit - yes, her name was read out far too often by an eager announcer four years ago in Melbourne - says that the "deep cleaning" has finished and I suspect that various brands of moisturising cream are claiming credit.

So far, I feel safe and I feel that India is a wonderful place. They could not have given these games to a better place.

Alarmingly, some Welsh athletes have been photographed with vuvuzelas. There are being brought on site to scare off the langurs that were brought in to frighten the monkeys.


  • Comment number 1.

    well thankx alot for your kind comments but i do feel that they r a bit over the top lol, one thing is right we r very kind hearted, welcoming and understanding people. i really hope that the other coloumnists would see what you see mr Breattie. i really hope that games will go on reasonably well if not successfully. i wish scottish team all the very best

  • Comment number 2.

    Delhi has world class facilities: British athletes

    Even as their media nitpicked and wrote damning reports about the state of preparations for Commonwealth Games, some British athletes who are here found the facilities "world class", "simply amazing" and with "foolproof security".

    "This is my first visit to India. I was very keen to come here as I have heard so many good things about this country. Earlier I have represented England in various tournaments in other countries like South Africa and Italy.
    If I compare the security arrangements and other things then India is at par with them; in fact better in many areas," Jocelyn Hunt, 15, member of the five-member British women gynmastic team, said Hunt, 15, is visiting India
    for the first time and for 18-year-old Becky Wing this is her first Commonwealth Games appearance.

    "I am really liking the spicy Indian food and warm hospitality. Here people are very friendly and responsive. We are not feeling that we are away from home, in fact it seems that we are sitting in some part of London itself," she said.
    Becky said "This is my first commonwealth games and I am very excited about it. Though I have seen so much on television and read in newspapers about the security concerns and other issues but I am not at all bothered about
    them. I have found everything in place and there is a foolproof security cover," she said.

    "The environment here is very thrilling and I do not find much difference if I compare the arrangements with Beijing. Moreover, we are not thinking about anything else except winning medals. My aim is to figure in top three in the
    medal tally," said Wing, who is studying Mathematics at a college in London.

    Imoga Cairns, 20, who had won a gold in gymnastics at Melbourne CWG in 2006, said "I am very satisfied, in fact more than satisfied with the arrangements. Here we have world class arrangements of accommodation, food and other facilities,"

    She added, "Yes, there were so much of negative stories about India's failure in meeting the deadlines, collapse of bridge but I do not know the reasons behind this. My experience so far is simply amazing," she said.

  • Comment number 3.

    I just think that there has been this "British" take on things, when actually the rest of the world is not at all like us. Here in India there are religious tensions that need looked after, nearly one and a half BILLION people who need looked after, mosquitoes carrying diseases, monkeys etc etc etc. It is culturally rich and diverse and I feel better for seeing it and I'm glad India is hosting


  • Comment number 4.

    I think the West and Britain in particular suffer from massive insularity and for many sheer ignorance of the rest of the world especially the emerging economic Behemoth that is India.

    We also overlook the following British “large infrastructural project disasters”

    • Concorde
    • Previous Edinburgh Commonwealth Games
    • Millennium Dome
    • Holyrood Parliament
    • Every PFI project
    • And to surely come the new Forth Bridge, London 2012 Glasgow 2014

    Then again from a society used to the benefits that accrue from economic slavery e.g. Pakistan, South Africa to name others, we’re hardly going to change until we experience being a 50/50 developed economy sitting cheek by jowl with a Third World parallel version.

    The attitude of the British media could also harm England’s 2018 World Cup bid!

  • Comment number 5.

    David - I know nobody is perfect, but we are just back from filming at a market where the Indian shoppers and shopkeepers alike were utterly genuine and warm to us. It's always early to say these things, and I might be tempting fate, but we could learn from the Indians and the way the majority of their populations interacts.

    As I write this the announcement has been made about the Ayodha case, where Muslims and Hindus have been arguing over a sacred site so it may be about to change.

    In a country of nearly one and a half billion I think I can safely say most of them could teach us a thing or two


  • Comment number 6.

    You're making it sound that Glasgow will have a hard act to follow, John. That will be a good thing for the games and Glasgow will be easily up for it. British standards are still among the best in the world but they were blown away by the facilities that Qatar had for the last Asian Games in 2006. So I guess it comes down to money - but haven't India spent more on these games than any CWG city has ever and Glasgow ever will?

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi John

    Thanks for your kind words about the games.
    I am living in Glasgow for the past 15 years, but originally from Hyderabad in south India, it is a wonderful place, but we here want perfection in everything but not at home.Like any other Indian wedding all is well at the end of the day.


  • Comment number 8.

    John Let me just say first im a big fan of you blogg. Your views on Rugby are normally very similar to my own, but on this they differ greatly.

    The CWG is first and fore most a sporting event. The environment created has to be good enough to enable the athletes to compete at their peak. This means the facilities and security being top flight. If the selected location is unable to provide this, Then it does a great injustice to the athletes who have trained long and hard to compete.

    There is no doubting the immense culture that Delhi has to offer but i think that all ways has to take a back seat to the needs of the athletes.

  • Comment number 9.

    johnbhoy15 and j_I1986- I have no doubt that Glasgow's facilities will be superb, and the citizens will buy into it. I don't think everything about India is good - today, filming, we were at an area we had walked past last night and it is where they openly smoke Opium, sniff glue an we are talking about young men, very young men, some I reckon were ten years old. Many barely moved and looked ill.

    There is gut wrenching, over populated poverty on a massive scale.

    I'm not clever enough to give you the socio-economic benefits of hosting a games, or analyse whether a government would be better spending the money on feeding the poor of its country. But all studies I have seen say that a country gets net income from spending on sporting events.

    And there is a bigger question: what is a sporting event? What are the Commonwealth games actually about? What are the Olympics about? I am not so sure it is about the athletes, for instance.

    It;s just possible that most major sporting events are a combination of political arenas, entertainment, education, and redevelopment with athletes as the entertainers.

    So, a lot of the interest in any event, whether we like it or not, concerns what happens off the pitch, or in this case off the track, out of the pool, or off the green. The colour India brings to this provides much of the interest in the games.

    I do agree that the safety of everyone is of paramount importance though.

    Right, long day, too long a post, off for buffet curry (three times a day) and then to bed....


  • Comment number 10.

    Great one JB.

    It was really shocking to see Indian Government has not yet learned how to manage such events & deal with corruption. But there is reason why it grows at 8%, it is their People.

    Quiet sure that they will pull it off nicely in spite of such heavy negative publicity it has received.

    And yes, it could have been a lot more better with proper planning from government.

  • Comment number 11.

    Nicely said. The amount of so called athletes who have cried off from these games is a disgrace. If conditions are not ideal you toughen up and go and do the best you can. You don't sit at home and sulk.

  • Comment number 12.

    Firstly I must say, I love reading ur blog.. especially ur unique and often unconventional bits on rugby!
    Nice post this .. Im an Indian from calcutta studying at Edinburgh for the last few years and i must say It fills me with great happiness to see Scots in delhi liking it and enjoying the place n heritage...
    having lived here in edinburgh, I have discovered that scots and indians have a lot in common (especially the love for poetry, art literature etc...)

    As a budding sportsman myself I can say for sure the facilities that have come up in delhi (especially the swimming and the cycling velodrome) are a boon for budding athletes in the country... Such facilities in india were unheard of 10 years back, our athletes used to constantly complain of lack of worldclass facilities befor big games.. now thanks to the commonwealth games we do have some awe inspiring facilities for the athletes to train.. that alone for me is a bigger positive than the games themselves..

    The miracle of India lies in orderliness among chaos and madness...
    Im sure Ull soon enjoy and fall in love with the culture, the hospitality and the warmth of the people..
    Even though there are a million teeming issues to be dealt with in a country of a billion, ull be amazed to still see a glimmer of hope and anticipation of something good in the shabbiest of eyes you encounter..
    That my friend is the mystical magic of India.

    Do hope You have a good trip and great time at the games! (which im sure u will!!)

    Its unfair to compare glasgow to delhi... two different cities..vastly different demographics and culture.. but i do think glasgow in its own unique way would be a special games.. its a lovely city, great heritage, architecture n culture as well...(love the glasgow riverfront!)

    i honestly couldn't think of any two better suited commonwealth cities to raise the CWG profile than delhi2010 and glasgow2014!
    these are two of the most prominent million plus commonwealth cities never to have hosted the games before and they thoroughly deserve it!

    It would however be fair to compare glasgow to manchester, and i thoroughly believe glasgow would be way way better than manchester! :D

  • Comment number 13.

    Dear John, as a newbie to your blog your comments have been a refreshing change from the mainstream. I would say that what j_l1986 said is countered by the athletes on the ground who have been positive once this week has begun. As an NRI (UK BASED Non Resident Indian)I'm happy that it hasn't taken on the "Indian wedding" approach of organised chaos, it has got to be right, just like any where else. That's the point of being a CWG venue, it says you can 'deliver'on the world stage, as a people and as a country. I'm not a praying man, but I am praying the games are a success. India's 1Billion or more need it to be for the long term good of the country.

  • Comment number 14.

    hi John, as someone who thinks the overpaid sports Jordan/chavs types who are missing the Commonwealth Games due to their mummy's sick notes you are a breath of fresh air.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thankyou very very much for having a positive look at CWG in Delhi. I am greatful to you, atleast somebody has got their eyes open.

    Strange but not surprising that BBC does not have any of the positive stories in any of their Radio or TV broadcast in last couple of days, about CWG in Delhi.

    Love India.

  • Comment number 16.

    as far i hd experienced..india is the best country in's the only place where a large number of people with different languages,religions,cultures,etc exist's the most peaceful country that's why it's the main goal for terrorists..but why to worry in a country with third largest army in the world..before coming to india i searched everything about india & i came to know india is best place to visit & to live..people of india know the best way to welcome & respect their guests ...& one amazing thing i came to know in india is that serving their guests is the main religion in india...india is the best example of humanity with varieties of people living together under in secure borders..just wikipedia about india & u will came to know everything abt it...i m a us citizen but i m impressed more by recovered fastest only in 69 years from it's independence & became the eleventh economy in the world & growing fastly...i planned a long trip for india...u shuld also come...

  • Comment number 17.

    About the commonwealth games held in delhli , india has been rumoured by its own wasn't that big issue as shown by media all over the world...i deeply found that the main issue was the uncompletition of site before due date which occurred due to corruption in games organising authority of india.Corruption by some persons led to the shame of whole country ....the news about scraps & uncleaniness was becoz of site underconstruction.i visited the games village & found that news about dirty toilets & uncleaniness are not right anymore.,-the rooms & toilets are much clean..About the bullet scandal,the bullets shot at tourist bus was not by terrorists..they were some local gangsters paid for this to terrorize players to avoid coming india,,,& one more thing about the australian sting operation to check security is that when the reporter entered the site with sodium nitrate,there was no security systems & perssonal implemented becoz at that time the site was under construction as shown by the date me that sting video.the best example about security is that the dehli's prime minister's daughter wasn't allowed to enter games site becoZ SHE forgot her entry pass at home & she was forced to produce her entry pass to enter games village so she waited for about two hours at the gates before her pass arrives...what more do we expect...??

  • Comment number 18.

    After such a hoo haa about the CWG Village and those few pics, it's a shame that broadcaster likes of BBC havent updated public with pictures showing how good the facilities seems to have turned out, even though India did leave it until the very last minute.

    India I feel will make this one of the most memorable games ever. My last visit to India was near 15 years ago, but I still reminisce about my trip I took to India and I feel it will have the same effect on athletes around the World. I recall debates whether India should have been awarded these games. This is what Commonwealth is, it is made up mostly of developing World and if CWG only went to countries likes of UK, Autralia and NZ, than what is the point of CWG? Games should go to more developing countries. They are not all full of terrorists and diseases. Those athletes who have pulled out siting silly concerns, I feel they have missed out on great games.

    I feel India will pull it off in a big and a memorable way.

  • Comment number 19.

    This blog was like the breath of fresh air. After spending huge some of money finally I heard something positive.

    Yes! there was huge uproar after BBC posted the front page news of filthy basin in the village on it's website, though OC was under fire but a section of mass of also of the opinion that these "Whites" would always have problem no matter what we do; specially when the Australian head of games stated "Delhi should not have got the games"; There was a strean feeling that India should quit the legacy commonwealth realm. I beleive these positive comments would further boost the image the west in a common Indian mind.

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks John, for you honest truthful and unbiased blog. Let, with ALL THE BEST for CWG2010

  • Comment number 21.


    Glad your having a great time and as other have said, it's nice to get such a positive perspective on things.
    I wonder if your early years in Borneo gives you an openness, an ability to celebrate, enjoy, and immerse yourself in other cultures in a way that many people from the UK find hard?

    I think your right that these big sporting events are about so much more than just sport which is why wither it's a football world up or the olympics etc., all the bid teams have to stress what the legacy will be. Sport, or Politics, can't solve every problem - but it would be nice to think that as a result of the games in Delhi, change would occur. However, sport struggles in this regard as it to a measure perpetuates the idea that a human person is valuable because of what they can achieve, because of what they can do. While it is good and right to celebrate human achievement and excellence, we all as fellow-humans need to think about how the choices we make and the money we or our different governments spend effect / help / oppress / liberate etc. those wee boys you mentioned trapped by poverty (perhaps by caste?).

    Anyway, enjoy the games, stay well, and continue to let your engagement with 'the other' shape you.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi John

    Terrific blog. Your article has stuffed a massive amount of perspective down our metaphorical throats. We have known for several years that these Games will be hosted in India, a developing nation with mass poverty and sanitation difficulties. Why start to grumble about it a week before the Games start?

    To give a semblance of balance, I have grown up in Scotland and played football from a young age. If I was given a pound for the number of times I have encountered a stinking, dilapidated, fungus infected, freezing cold dressing room with one functioning shower head I would be a fairly wealthy man (I'm sure you can identify with this is a rugby sense John!?)

    Message to Western athletes: Stop moaning about the facilities! If you have a problem with your rooms it means you are spending far too much time in them when you could be honing your medal credentials on the practice field / pitch / track / pool!

    Good luck to all the British athletes, I'm sure it will be a wonderful event!

  • Comment number 23.

    Thanks John for this not so biased report. I am pleased to read this. Why so much moaning from the western and australian media? Did they moan like this during Manchester 2002 or Athens 2000?

  • Comment number 24.

    Please read the story of Danielle Brown (England) and her praise for the games village. She said in this report that this games village has even made really good arrangements for disabled people, which was lacking in the world chamionships. so why all these unnecessary moaning from the western media about Delhi 2010?

  • Comment number 25.

    John, for a rugby man you're alright - what a refreshing blog!

    I live in Edinburgh, work in Glasgow, but my heart is often somewhere near Delhi (or another equally vibrant and exciting part of that wonderful country).

    I can't help wonder why the western media has been so focused on relatively trivial issues for our athletes, yet has paid so little attention to the country of India itself - its strengths, its challenges, its people. How about the plight of the workers who have been killed or injured in preparing these buildings for our athletes, for example? Why is there much more fuss about a Scot or a Welsh person who may not have their apartment's marble tiling fully finished??

    Enjoy India John - if it's your first time, I bet you go back...

  • Comment number 26.

    The British empire's athletes first gathered 80 years ago, facing one another in friendly competitions as a way to bind together the king's vast dominions.

    It was 1930, a time when India was the jewel in the colonial crown, when the subcontinent was ruled by a small corps of English bureaucrats. The competition was known as the Empire Games, though even then, the empire had begun to fade.

    Today, with India on the eve of opening what is now called the Commonwealth Games, that world is barely a memory. There are times when the former colonial subject speaks of its one-time master with barely hidden condescension.

    "Look, Britain has a very old heritage," said Zafar Iqbal, once one of India's greatest field hockey players and now a powerful figure in the country's sports community. "But the British empire is gone. ... Now there is just the games."

    India's preparations for the New Delhi games have become an international embarrassment, with filthy athletes' housing, a collapsed pedestrian bridge, security worries, corruption accusations and an outbreak of dengue fever. Even if the games pass uneventfully after Sunday's opening ceremonies, the chaos of India's last-minute efforts will have deeply scarred this country's reputation.

    But it won't change the modern political equation -- that India is increasingly becoming a power to be reckoned with and Britain is slowly moving further into the background.

    The comparison is particularly glaring when it comes to money.

    India has one of the world's fastest-growing economies, roaring along at nearly 9 percent, while Britain is only slowly emerging from a brutal recession. An Indian conglomerate -- Tata -- is one of Britain's largest manufacturers and owns some of the country's most cherished brands, including Jaguar and Land Rover.

    Five years ago, Britain was the 5th largest exporter to India. Today, it is the 18th. Exports to India dropped from $6.4 billion in 2008 to $4.5 billion in 2009.

    When British Prime Minister David Cameron flew to India this summer with a huge entourage, seeking increased trade to help boost the economy, Britain's Daily Telegraph heralded his trip by noting it "confirms the uncomfortable truth that we now need our former colony more than it needs us."

    So does much of the rest of the Commonwealth, the group of 54 nations that evolved from the British empire.

    Brian Stoddart, an Australia-based authority on international development and sports, noted that much of the loudest criticism of India's games preparations died down after just a few days -- something he sees as a reflection of how countries knew they could not afford to anger India.

    Commonwealth countries such as Canada and New Zealand "need India in the broader economic and development front," he said. "Everybody needs India over the next 20, 40, 50 years."

  • Comment number 27.

    Laughed at the changing room facilities comparison. 20-30 years ago in Dundee we changed 4 adult male teams in one changing room on a regular basis for weekend football. Guys using other guys wet towels the norm, cold showers and hordes trying to get at least the worst of the mud and glaur off and the pitches were frankly "bogging" full or debris and keech. Yes those halcyon days!

    However on an entirely different tangent. I'm sure there's over 100M or 150M Indians who speak English or 20 or 30 times the population of Scotland! A quite staggering demographic comparison!

  • Comment number 28.


    Thanks for writing positive about CWG and Delhi,your blog brought some smile on our face,we are hearing all positive here right from Athelete to official of all the arived country but still waiting to hear positive from BBC,hope they will listen and do justice.We dont even know when the concern pic were taken and from which bulding of CWG,who ever may be the country when organise such a big event some hitches are bound to happen but people should look on positive aspect of the game and will try to make it happen but unfortunately all have tried to turnish immage of India,we are happy that the sting operation about security carried out by Australian Media tuned out to be bogus and manipulated,now their people only blaming their own media.UK is also going to host Olympic we wish them all the best for and wish game will be a grant success, when I was in UK last year their own media were blaming Govt for the money spending which will require and from where they will arrange finance,however I enjoyed the victory parade organise by the UK GOVT and were happy and same we expect from UK media as well as UK people.

    Once again thanks for writing positive deserving comments on CWG

  • Comment number 29.

    DavidJBrodie - the scale of the place is what gets me too. All the comparisons are hard to get your head around. 17m in Delhi, three times the Scottish population.

    thechekendon - met Lord Smith today, chairman of Weir group. He is visiting his people here this coming week I think, and there are a thousand of them.

    Have to go and do more work, will come back to the others


  • Comment number 30.

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your kind words.People seem to be more interested in pointing out more on issues(not yet completely addressed) rather than the good work that has happened.Unfortunately this is the trend all over.A small piece of negetive news takes all the attention and the good work will just go un noticed.


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