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Delhi's great, but where are all the spectators?

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John Beattie | 18:32 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

The lack of fans turning up to watch events at the Games is not good. Frankly, countries like China force their populations to go, the Aussies would buy a ticket for two flies racing, and the Brits can spot value for money. Please, India, fill the stands.

But let's be positive.

All in all, Glasgow has a task ahead in trying to live up to India's lead. It was Charan Gill, a friend of mine and successful businessman in Glasgow, who said all along that Delhi and the East End of Glasgow would be just the same because both are full of people in tracksuits who can't speak English.

Actually, India is a massive English-speaking country.

Every day here I love India more.

I watched a show all about pets on Indian TV and it's called "Heavy Petting". Or, as they put it on NDTV - "A brand-new season of woofs, meows and hee-haws, HEAVY PETTING is back with a bang."

That sentence, to me, seems to have a lot of errors in it. North Delhi Television is India's largest TV production house so perhaps they have hit on something and, personally, I vote for Paul O'Grady as host.

Combined with the fact that one of our guides here is called Luv, as in "thanks, Luv" and the minister for education and tourism is called Shri Arvinder Singh Lovely, and my life is becoming wonderfully surreal.

But while most of our days here with BBC Scotland consist of walking for miles, jumping on buses with ISDN boxes and camera legs, marvelling at what we see, toying with the idea of grabbing a gun from a soldier (oh, is that just me?), queuing to get into venues, getting very hot, then shivering in the air-conditioned broadcast centre, doing homework on the events we are about to cover, searching for daytime food, showing our passes, and then broadcasting, we get to unwind at the end of the day or early before we set off.

My top unwind moment so far has been a swimming lesson from Karen Pickering MBE.

She won 13 Commonwealth medals in the pool including two golds and is very friendly with former top Scottish athlete Allison Curbishley. They have enough energy that if they teamed up they could probably power a small European country.

Karen, refusing to swim with a former rugby player considerably older than her, stood at the side of the pool and gave instructions. Frankly, this provided two benefits. A great lesson - er, head twisting to both sides and pulling through the water - and a great memory.

Epiphany came from the boxing venue. I knew it, I just knew it. I have been standing on the Indian Commonwealth Games scales for the last few years. Wasn't that a weird one? The boxing scales weighed a kilo and a half heavy and the weigh-in has been delayed.

Boxers actually went away, tried to lose weight, and came back heavier. Maybe this is what slimming companies do. Someone produced a 50kg weight and it weighed 51.4 kg.

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And a fun day was had when the broadcast lines went down at the swimming venue. This was particularly galling as my Welsh colleague was about to commentate on Jazz Carlin's silver medal in the pool.

It's just the end of day one. I hope it gets better and better, but the event needs spectators. Please India, come and play.


  • Comment number 1.

    Dude - just how many people do you think in India speak English ? ( If you wanna know - try making a local trip on local transport. )

    And do yourself a favour and check the acronyms before you expand them ? NDTV = NEW Delhi Television, not NORTH Delhi Television.

    Uh - if you were more correct, I might even have believed you. But - um - no comments - in the spirit of being an inoffensive host.

  • Comment number 2.

    once again a great post john!
    Fact is Indians are waiting for the prices to the venues to go down!
    Once a discount is offered, ppl are gonna move in by droves! trust me!

  • Comment number 3.

    John, Your average Delhi slumdweller like those desparately poor people we see sleeping in tents outside the stadium get around 70p a day for 18 hours hard labour in a sweatshop making trainers after which time they get their heads down for a few hours underneath their work benches before doing it all again. Days out at sporting events are a distant dream for |India's poor...

  • Comment number 4.

    The organisers (including CWG) have not done any special effort to attract people to the games. They were obviously busy trying their best to complete the preparations.
    The authorities should try to attract people now...perhaps offer cheap tickets and fill the places with school kids who can enjoy and perhaps also develop interest in sport...legacy and all that.
    Its a shame actually that India has spent so much money to organise (& invited embarassment/pride...whichever you choose) and not many people are interested...maybe every venue should host a 20/20 game every day to attract people...

  • Comment number 5.

    As the wife of one of the Scottish team leaders I thought the games in Delhi would give me good chance to visit India and support the games with, pride knowing the next games would be in my home city of Glasgow.But after checking out accommodation in Delhi I found that the price of Hotels including the Scottish House was far out of the reach of most peoples pockets. I feel the CGC didn't do enough to address this but why should they,they along with all the other hangerson are not paying out of their own pockets to be out in Delhi.
    I am sure I'm not alone in my thinking,so don't just blame the poor Indian population as that is another issue that should have been addressed.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done, John.
    The best answers begin with the best questions.

    If I was as poor as most of the Delhi residents, I probably would have neither time, nor money, nor inclination, to go and see a white-elephant like this. If I was watching sport on TV, I might have been more interested in Ryder-Cup Golf, Premier-League Football (aka "Soccer"), or maybe some people chasing-a-rolling-cheese down a hill in Derbyshire or Switzerland. Or maybe I might just have picked-up-a-book-or-gone-and-done-something-more-interesting-instead.

    Why don't you ask the same question of the politicians, beaurocrats, and corporate-executives that do so well out of these events? What were they doing?
    Perhaps they were on the Golf course? Or out skiing? (I'm sure there is somewhere good for that in October.) Or down on the beach? Or reading a book? (Good choice).

    A few days ago I posted something similar along these lines on the BBC, and got at least one reply from someone who disagreed (maybe because I described the Javelin as "throwing a spear"), and appeared to think that field & track was doing very well, thank you very much, as a spectator sport.

    My opinion remains unchanged. Economically, as spectator sports, these events are on life-support. Take away the outrageous enforced "taxes" of the Olympic-type sports movement and what are you left with? Now take away lottery funding, and what are you left with? (So that's winning the lottery twice, isn't it?).

    You're left with the "Legacy", ha ha. The legacy of cities like Dehli and Barcelona that don't need an empty stadium to prove they are a city worth visiting in it's own right. Someone will tell me that the Olympic stadium is still used in Barcelona (Yeah, still being used by Freddy Mercury as well). It certainly wasn't in use when I saw it. It just looked like a piece of dead land in one of the world's beautiful cities.

    And London, too. (Plus we get the third careers of Lord Coe and David Beckham thrown in with the bargain.)

    Next up will come the arguments about the educational value of these sports, blah blah, blah.
    My memories of school 'physical-education' was that we were mostly forced to do these kind of events "because-that's-what-you-do-isn't-it?". Activities like football were generally NOT included. I still don't know whether that was because they thought we would do it anyway in our free-time, or because too many pupils liked it and they couldn't let pupils actually do something they enjoyed, could they?

    I was lucky enough to go to one school that had open fields and countryside adjacent to the school, which made for enjoyable cross-country running. But we only seemed to get to do that when the 'games-teacher' clearly wanted an easy day (though many other pupils seemed to think of it as a cruel and unusual punishment).

  • Comment number 7.

    It's kind of weird on one hand you have so called sports journalist like Tom Fordyce, who knows nothing about journalism and on the other hand guys like you, sir. I have utmost respect to you as journalist and your blog's rich content. I hope you will continue doing great work as you have done in the past. And please give home lessons on journalism to Mr. Fordyce.

    @ Wandering Monk; Dude, just chill, we can't except him to know every thing about India.

    Read this:

    and then compare it with this blog.

    Believe me!!! Mr.John Beattie knows very well how to criticize something without offending the blog reader's sentiments or any country's for that matter.

    However, this guys name tom (who was supposed to cover opening ceremony and has covered everything but ceremony) was rude and not apologetic at all. Didn't even dare to reply to any of the comment, well he did but BBC took it back... poor guy!!!

    Anyway I should not be talking about his blog here, I'm sorry john if I have broken any of the house rules.

    Once again, thank you so much for your insight and humbleness. You have restored the my faith in some way on journalism and BBC (to some extent)


  • Comment number 8.

    I think people will come for the finals in team sports. Who has the time to take off from work, buy expensive ticket and go through heavy security. It is not cricket :) and that's all we Indians care about !!

  • Comment number 9.

    I liked this blog, John. There is appreciation as well as constructive critcisim. My guess is that people will turn up as the commonwealth games progresses. It was a much much better blog to read than Tom Fodyce's blog (horrible)

  • Comment number 10.

    @gauravallalone I did read Tom's useless blog. He was very biased and I hated him for offending my sentiments so much. Why are people like him given a stage on BBC? What I cant belive is hes experiencing everything in India and getting the great hospitality and treatment from Indians and yet has no regards for their feelings whatsoever. Maybe his heart is made of stone. Im sure no Indian will want him there.

    I hope he understands that snubing Indians alone on every given oppurtunity will only create deep rooted hatred because all we want is to be friends and you are making that very diffcult. We are not in denial of our poverty but a picture of a slum 2 hours outside delhi near the picture of the opening cermony is like he went looking for poverty to publish. If you are traveling to find poverty then why doesnt he travel all the way to hackney and stratford ghettos and picture that or to Iraq where 200000 people died and many live in poverty and finally say that Indians are at fault here as well.

    Anyway I want to know what was his reply which BBC deleted??Please let me know.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well, seeing as the moderators find no problem in publishing comments about the (now closed) Tom Fordyce blog on the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, then I'll stick my oar in too.

    To me he often seems one of the better BBC writers/bloggers. An occasionally laconic sense of humour, but generally what many might term "a good bloke" in the English vernacular. I don't consider his blog particularly offensive. Maybe he has never been to the subcontinent before (I don't know whether he has or not, but it can be quite a big culture shock for some people.)

    People would do well to remember that some in the British (Sports)Media were taken to task about the reporting of the recent Winter Olympics in Canada. Amongst many British, the reaction was "Yeah, sorry about that, but that's the way they are". But they will at least be pretty even handed when it comes to rubbishing the London-Games and it's preparations (and so will I). But Tom is not in the worst category, by any means.

    At least whatsisname, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, had the good sense to say that London will specifically NOT be trying to out-do the Peking/Beijing opening ceremonies.

    So I really don't see what the fuss is about, other than some (understandable) Indian sensitivities to criticisms. None of us like that much.
    Now. Who can tell me how many moderators the BBC employs in India and Autralia?

  • Comment number 12.

    Let's wait and watch out for the London Olympics!

    As someone rightly said that every major event has its own flaws, we eagerly wait to see if those flaws are reported in such manner by Mr. John Beattie in his column. I do not think that those will ever flash here. After all, how can be so biased against the very nation which provides him shelter? You need some real self-introspection Mr. Beattie. Wake up to the reality! No nation in this world is perfect...

  • Comment number 13.

    It is time for Indians to introspect whether we really want to be part of this commonwealth games which stinks of racism at all levels.

  • Comment number 14.

    Arietis100 wrote [10]:

    "We are not in denial of our poverty but a picture of a slum 2 hours outside delhi near the picture of the opening cermony is like he went looking for poverty to publish."

    Did you actually read the article? The significance of Bawana is that it is one of "resettlement points" for families forcibly evicted from Delhi to make way for the athletes' village. The connection with the games could scarcely be clearer.

    And with respect, your comparison to hackney and stratford is a bit silly. The minimum wage in these places is eighteen times the wage of the average Indian textile worker. Even the unemployed there receive benefits of about six times that amount - and nearly all of them have electricity, colour television, refrigerators, gas/electric cookers, hot & cold running water etc etc. The comparison between what in Britain is loosely called "poverty", and what poverty really means in India, is a comparison in word alone, not in reality.

  • Comment number 15.

    Expecting the same magnitude of grandeur for commonwealth games as that of an Olympics is asking a little too much. In spite of which India has put its best foot forward to make this games comprising of just 72 nations (as compared to Olympics which has around 204 countries) a success.

  • Comment number 16.

    Raghuran - I really, really hope you don't think that. I do wonder at whether some of what the British media has said has been racist, and I think there is an argument for saying that some of it has been. But it's from British ignorance. I am a Commonwealth kid, having been brought up in Borneo and Malaysia and I think my generation of Commonwealth kid wants to be at peace with places like India. India makes up a half of the entire Commonwealth population, it is a stunning place, and your economy will overtake ours.

    I will need to go and read Tom Fordyce's blog. He has been pointed out to me in the IBC - perhaps I will sneak up behind him.....

    Jack123 - again, I will need to read Tom's blog, but I don't read other blogs as I want my own train of thought.

    sara124 - I have been reading in Indian papers that the hope was for Indian fans to come and watch the sports and to encourage people to like sports other than cricket. It is very, very difficult to get into stadia because of security and transport issues, and I guess that tickets are cheap too. If I were in Indian politics - I'd give tickets away for free.

    thefrogstar - really good points, really good points. The consumption of sport is changing, with, I think, a drive toward elite sport. If something's not the best of the best then people don't watch it. And modern sport participation trends are moving away from the "old fashioned" sports like athletics which means that each successive generation is less and less likely to have taken part. And having been on a government task force looking at PE, the difficulty PE has is providing something that everyone likes. With girls the trend is more and more toward, for instance, dance which girls like. And most girls, the research says, are put off athletics when they watch athletes because it just looks too tough

    BUT....7 million people watched TV when Rhona Martin won her gold in curling.

    Marion15 - we are staying in a hotel here and the prices, as you say, are crazy. If I go to the tiny eaterie in the estate where the International Broadcasting centre is based I can follow the Indian workers there and get a small meal with roti, potato curry, and two sauces for 60 rupees, which is 80 pence. If I want the buffet in this hotel it is, with taxes on top, about 1800 rupees which at 70 rupees to the pound (ooh, struggling in my head here) is £24? I think the hotel is £250 a night and it's not finished. The tickets for swimming were, I was told, anything from 100 rupees to 1000 rupees, as in £1.50 ish to £150. That upper limit is exhorbitant.

    What I think we are all paying for here is security. There is a perceived threat, real or imagined. We have xray machines and body searches several times a day with armed guards patrolling outside our hotel. Your Scotland house hotel is a really big fancy one.....

    I don't think I am blaming the Indian people, but i think the Indian leaders need to have a look at how they flll the stadia.

    Lifeisfunny - cricket in the Commonwealth games? Actually, that is a really good shout

    NEW Delhi, sorry. But it's true about Heavy Petting.

    Right, off out my hotel room to get the bus to work, and be searched.....

  • Comment number 17.

    ""Did you actually read the article? The significance of Bawana is that it is one of "resettlement points" for families forcibly evicted from Delhi to make way for the athletes' village. The connection with the games could scarcely be clearer."""

    The slums which every Tom, Dick and Harry in the British Media is so concerned about are all illegally occupied by the immigrant laborers from neighboring states, so the question of dislocating them for the games does not arise. I am not sure what action countries like Britain would have taken if the British nationals from the not so well to do neighborhood were to camp illegally in the area surrounding Buckingham Palace. CWG is obviously an international event and trying to showcase the best is not a crime that is only committed by India.

  • Comment number 18.

    """"If I was as poor as most of the Delhi residents, I probably would have neither time, nor money, nor inclination, to go and see a white-elephant like this."""

    One cannot blame the common man of India if games like CWG hardly has any star athletes. Love and passion for the games and athletes is something which pulls crowds to the stadiums, unfortunately the CWG seem to lack that. If you had any sense of the price of a IPL ticket and the kind of fan following games like cricket has in India you would not have made that comment. Its just the British ignorance about countries like India I guess.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's a bit ironic to see the BBC juxtapose the lavish venues of the CWG with the poverty-stricken slums nearby, and still have Britian's delegations come to India looking for busines, hoping to cash in on India's economic boom. Since some people/media in the West feel that Indian money spent on such events is wasted and disgraceful, that it would be better spent on eradicating poverty, then how do they justify their country making overtures to take some of that money for their own profit? Because, I'm damned if I see any British products in Indian stores anymore. They forced us to buy our own cotton when we were their hapless subjects, but they'd better wake up and smell the curry soon, coz apart from a few oversensitive Indians, most us find Britain's outdated superciliousness rather amusing, not to say, pathetic.

  • Comment number 20.

    Raghuram - even in Melbourne they removed the homeless from the streets for the games. You are right, people are trying to get the best image of their country to be seen abroad. How much is an IPL ticket? Is your line really that Indians have no desire to watch Commonwealth games sports?

    RazzberryBeret - I am pretty sure that any major sporting event generates income so no country should complain about staging a Commonwealth style tournament. As to your bigger point I hope the world continually moves on. Both our countries are brilliant places. Take a boat trip up the Western isles of Scotland, watch the sun go down at eleven and night and then rise at half three, taste some fresh fish, have a whisky, and relax and you will see how I love my country. Here I have marvelled at India gate and been blown away by the spirit of people, the food, the smells, the bustle.

    And you have to realise that, yes, our ideas are sometimes outdated but the modern UK is a melting pot of people and evolves each year. I was wondering, actually, about the trade missions. I suspect the Indians want to sell to the UK, and the UK wants to sell to India. Circular money, perhaps an economist could explain it

    Bought a guitar at a market the other day. A Givson. Excellent, hours of fun in the hotel room....


  • Comment number 21.

    John, its really nice to see that at least you are writing some thing positive about CWG 2010. Otherwise, I always find the views expressed by Western media about India is stereotype. Tom is also no exception.

    Crowed is missing in the venues coz a huge part of Delhi population is working professionals. Organizations and Companies have not declared Holidays for Games. So, You have to wait for weekends to see packed stadiums. Now the on line bookings of tickets are happening very fast.

    @wandering monk...for your kind information India is the largest English-speaking nation in Asia. The medium of instruction at higher education and University level is English. At least in cities in India more than 50% population can speak English....English news channels are more popular than Hindi news channels. So do a reality check before passing comments.

  • Comment number 22.

    Searching for daytime food!! Give me a break. I watch you guys every morning at the hotel stealing food from the breakfast buffet; you even have the front to ask the waiters for bags to carry it off in. Spend some of your daily allowance and leave some grub for the rest of the hotel guests!!

  • Comment number 23.

    2. At 9:42pm on 04 Oct 2010, jocyfer wrote:
    once again a great post john!
    Fact is Indians are waiting for the prices to the venues to go down!
    Once a discount is offered, ppl are gonna move in by droves! trust me!


    The Games will be over when the discounts become operative.

  • Comment number 24.

    Raghuram (#18 and previous):

    "Its just the British ignorance about countries like India I guess."

    Bad luck, you guessed wrong.
    I would also add that I was born, live, and work, in the USA.

    I think you need to be a little more cautious about the assumptions you make about others, and the knowledge or views that you attribute to them, before publicly impugning them with very base motives. (Or at least more cautious about the assumptions that you seem to airing in public by your statements).

    I cannot understand why you imply that I, or anyone else on this blog, is blaming "the common man of India" as you put it, for anything.
    I have now been posting on the BBC for several years, with the same username. I cannot recall ever writing anything even slightly derogatory about Indians. The last time I remember passing direct comment on any Indian, was when I wrote a complimentary post on an article about Sachin Tendulkar passing a significant statistical-milestone in the annals of Cricket history. In fact, I now remember writing on that post that he was considered closer to a deity in India than most other mortals. (Actually, it might have been another curious article about a case in the Indian courts against a German company selling fantastically expensive pens allegedly monographed with images of Hindu deities.
    You can check all that when you read it. If the BBC keeps a record of all of my postings, as they should, then you can search the BBC web-pages yourself to prove that I wrote these things.

    Just for the record, do you place Tendulkar in your category of "the common man of India"?

    On the subject of Cricket at the Commonwealth games: I posted a comment on this only a few days ago. If the commonwealth-games continue, then I expect Cricket will reappear in that context (because it will be seen as a "guaranteed success" when the administrators start thinking a bit more about bums-on-seats, money, and where that money will end up.
    To add extra comment to what I said then, it surprises me that Cricket is NOT currently one of the "approved" sports. Especially so, because of the historical links with the, ahem..., "Commonwealth Countries".

    To use your paranoia to good effect, maybe should ask yourself the question: "Now why might that be?"

  • Comment number 25.

    Logolept - wasnae me...

  • Comment number 26.

    Perhaps they should give some of the tickets to the hundreds of the workforce team who are just sat around the games village doing nothing! no wonder the village is still not finished, the workforce seem to take a break every ten minutes that is when they're not taking photos of athletes wondering past.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ Arietis100;

    I just saw that blog and his comments are back on the page... Read it and I'm sure by the time you will finish, you will realise that human brain is the deadliest of them all...

  • Comment number 28.

    Tend to enjoy your blogs John, as i'm a keen Rugby fan. Keep it up!

    Regarding Tom's blog, I couldn't believe the utter nonsense some, if not most of the posters had come out with. It smacked of a complete over-reaction and and with regards to the comments about Tom having to grow up, I think a few of those people need to look at themselves. It showed those people's insecurities more than anything else.

    Whilst I agree that there has been a rather negative build up to these games (rightly or wrongly) one can not just ignore and conveniently forget sujects and situations which aren't always easy on the eyes and ears.

    As for the sport, let's hope it's competitive and enthralling and I hope the authorities in India can find a way to allow the kids to see some of the events if tickets aren't sold

  • Comment number 29.

    @john ""How much is an IPL ticket? Is your line really that Indians have no desire to watch Commonwealth games sports?"" My response was to a comment on your blog """If I was as poor as most of the Delhi residents, I probably would have neither time, nor money, nor inclination, to go and see a white-elephant like this."""
    The very essence of sporting events of this nature disappears when the international media instead of focusing on sports deviates to report about the socioeconomic conditions of the host country. They seem to be more interested in digging up the underbelly of India (I am not sure if they would have shown the same kind of enthusiasm if they were to report about countries like China, Arabia, etc.) We all know that the organizing committee screwed it up in Delhi. The Delhi government should have been more aware about the kind of international scrutiny we would have to undergo when hosting games of this nature, simply because unlike countries like China everything in India is out in the open thanks to the vocal national media (which has been more critical about the inefficient way in which we have organized the CWG). But again reporting about corruption associated with games is one thing and for the international press to go on and on about India's poverty is completely a different ballgame. I really hope journalists brush up their history and show a little more respect while reporting about countries like India. And again John I am not trying to paint all the international journalists with the same brush. It is just that all the countries irrespective of their economic condition should be encouraged to organize international sporting events, provided we keep the corrupt officials at bay since corruption has no boundaries. Finally, it should be the sportsmanship which should stand out and not the richness and glamour of the nations. India just won the first cricket test against Australia :)

  • Comment number 30.

    All told, the majority of Indians are not really interested in Sports apart from Cricket-and they tell me that the Raj is rubbish. The Raj also invented Curry, a point no Indian has addressed!

  • Comment number 31.

    let me know why Queen did not come

  • Comment number 32.

    Brian May has been asked never to step foot near a guitar again since his cringeworthy rendition of God save the Queen whilst standing on the roof of Buckingham Palace.

    Hope this helps answer your query Bakedbeans.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    20. At 06:55am on 05 Oct 2010, John Beattie - BBC Sport wrote:

    ...the modern UK is a melting pot of people
    John, I wish what you say is true. I have known immigrants who have been in the UK for 10 years+ & still can't string a sentence in English-I don't mean gramatically. There are ghettos in the UK!
    I look forward now to my melting pot of Curry simmering away in the kitchen.

  • Comment number 35.


    I have been reading your blog for a few days and decided to write because you seem to be one of the more sensible reporters sent out by the BBC. What has really bothered Indians is that most of the reporters whether from England, Australia, New Zealand or even Scotland have carried assumptions about our country that are 50 year old if not more. The Scot Chef de Mission is on a whinefest.If you want to know exactly what he said please go the Scotsman site and read it. In the age of google and wikipedia nobody has bothered to research. Yes we have the largest number of poor in the world but do you know that in the last 15 years we have lifted the largest number of people out of poverty -ever in the history of mankind. And we are proud of it. We are just cranking up here after 250 years of loot through colonial rule.

    No for more mundane matters. The Organising Committee should have anticipated the low turnout. The schools and colleges have been forced to close and with traffic problems which everybody anticipated a lot of people have decided to take a vacation. A lot of Holiday Packages for Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka were ironically promoted as Commonwealth Games Packages and a lot of people took advantage of them. The hill stations in the Himalayas, the backwaters of Kerala, the beaches of Goa were in great demand from Delhites. Domestic Airline tickets out of Delhi are at their highest rate for the last 5 years.

    There are other reasons for the low turnout. Unfortunately it will more of my time. Om the lady complaining about the high tariff of Hotels I just want to bring to your notice that B & B in New Zealand are quoting 20,000 dollars for week during the Rugby World Cup. Everybody tries to make money if they can

  • Comment number 36.

    29. At 09:16am on 05 Oct 2010, raghuram wrote:
    unfair for the media...'to be more interested in digging up the underbelly of India (I am not sure if they would have shown the same kind of enthusiasm if they were to report about countries like China, Arabia, etc.)
    Dear Raghuram,

    1.Let us face the truth: Organisation is not an Indian forte, which was why the Raj were so successful;
    2. The media cannot penetrate the Chinese mind because, as we know, the Chinese are an inscrutable lot & the Saudis are a Closed Society.

  • Comment number 37.

    The absence of sports that are massively popular in the Commonwealth is quite idiotic in my view. Cricket (20-20), Golf, Snooker, Pool and Polo are all hugely popular in the Commonwealth, would be enormous crowd pullers, aren't repeated on the Olympic programme and wouldn't detract from the idea of the Friendly Games.

  • Comment number 38.

    raghuram - Ok, I understand now - yes, countries have to know that if they put themselves forward for scrutiny by hosting events then that scrutiny will indeed come.

    Yogye - thanks for that. How do you think we could get more crowds to events?

    IanCheese - It's not a perfect melting pot, it probably takes the next generation to embrace a language

    I am happy to step in for Queen and the Queen if required. Angus Young licks to the fore


  • Comment number 39.

    35. At 10:27am on 05 Oct 2010, Yogye wrote:
    Thank you for your tip about holidays. I am just about to go on holiday, I will studiously avoid those places you mentioned.

  • Comment number 40.

    Great job John in writing a Blog which has a more positive perspective and balanced views. I have been a BBC fan for the last 10 years and hardly missed a day when I have not read BBC online few times a day. But the BBC coverage of CWG Delhi was so negative (with no balance) that I lost all the respect I had built in so many years. All they cover and show was pictures and articles about snakes, monkeys, dirty toilets and so on even when they were covering the improvements. How did a spectacular opening ceremony take place if there was no right work being done for that? And why did BBC not cover it in a proper light? Your blog helped me to feel the balance that I saw was missing completely in BBC coverage of CWG. If BBC has barely managed to retain this loyal fan, the credit should go to those few people like yourself reporting. Thanks again. I hope my comments get posted and not simply get censored.

    Sanjeev from California USA

  • Comment number 41.


    It just maybe too late to get people to attend and it is not because of the cost. The local tickets for IPL were priced from Rs 200 (3.25 pounds) ffor students to Rs 40,000 (650 quid approx). The problem is the Games were not adequately marketed to Delhiites. People are not aware of games like Lawn bowls, NetBalls, etc., Despite spending so much money the except the main stadium are not covered. Delhi has a tradition of watching hockey but who is going to go in this heat unless India is playing.Getting the school kids is the obvious answer but the schools are on a vacation. Indias best sport is Shooting and the range is 20 km away - withdifficult access. The Committee will have to do some out of the box thinking.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the bad press and the feeling of being let down by the commonwealth organizing committee have kind of unnerved the people of India. The commonwealth organizing committee has been so engrossed with their own problems that they kind of never were able to reach out to the general public. If the main intension of this games was to create more awareness among the public about other sports other than cricket then the committee has failed miserably. They should have involved the schools and colleges in and around Delhi and given free passes to the students, after all it is these students who are the future sportsmen of our country, and this event would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for the students.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm dying to see the CWG games and the players in action and I'm sure lot of other Indians are but I'm stuck up with this god damn work and by the evening it eats up all my energy and I return home by 9:00 pm. I am planning to skip office and take my entire team along to watch some of the events in a day or two.

    All Schools and Colleges are closed, I dont understand why cant they go and fill the stadiums??? The games are for the small kids of India and I tell you they can draw so much inspiration from these games and infact that can start the wheel in motion for the 'Great' Indian dream of becoming a sporting giant. There is no super power without sports.

    Its a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm sorry its getting lost.

  • Comment number 44.


    just to add to my earlier comments the Organising Committee has become obsessed with security. The Travel advisories and the repeated remarks by Ms Gillard only made matters worse. We now here that Australian pressman went through courses in the bush to get ready for their assignments to Delhi. The Organising committee after having screwed up on a lot of things would settle for empty stadiums than be perceived to be slack on security.

    Even after taking into account the number of terrorist incidents in Delhi it is definitely safer here than a saturday night Sauchiehall Street.

    A Majority of the reporters from England, Scotland, OZ, NZ have not bothered to do even an iota research on India. It seems they all write for the gossip colums of the Daily Record. The easiest thing they could have done was to just have chat with the cricket correspondent of their publication.

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    Thanks to your blog. I just sponsored 4 friends in Delhi to go out to CWG. Maybe BBC can do something positive about spinning out a blog for Indians staying overseas and elsewhere who would like to sponsor their friends in India to go to CWG. I think getting a few thousands that way in a day or two should not be impossible considering the millions of NRIs staying overseas and a good lot of the following BBC.

    Sanjeev from California USA

  • Comment number 47.

    43. At 12:04pm on 05 Oct 2010, Varun wrote:
    There is no super power without sports.


    I am not sure I agree.
    What I admired about India was its indifference to Sports. Just because other nations are obssessed about it doesn't mean that India has to follow. The Indians have shown that there are more things to life than getting hooked on Sports, which explains the low attendance at these games.

  • Comment number 48.


    Nice blog indeed. Have been following your commentary on the games and have been really enjoying and at the same time getting to know more about the games.

    Before answering your question about the poor attendance ( from my experience and from the wisdom I gained from that experience ), I would like to narrate few things.

    I have been in England just over 2 years and had been in India before all that.The first thing I experienced was a culture shock . I got to know more about the culture and experienced it . I have backpacked in wales , and few countries in Europe to experience the culture . There are many things which I learnt and loved .

    There is a major cultural difference literally in every part of life when compared to India.In the context of the blog written by you, I would like to point out the sporting culture which is a part of life in U.K and Europe, which has just begin in India.(For Indians Cricket is life, and yes there are (few) parts of India which love sports , but in broader sense it has just started )

    One reason for the poor attendance is that.

    Second reason is total and utter failure of the organising committee. There are many sporting committees ( state wise, district wise and so on) where there are budding sports persons who would have been loved to experience their one time opportunity to see some of the top names participating in their favourite sports. The OC should have done it.

    Its a debating question which takes a long answer.I will better stop it here.

    But CWG 2010 coming to India is the best thing for the brand and for India , in my opinion. ( commenting on your last article ,regarding salvaging the brand name. sorry for commenting it here. )

    CWG, is not just about sport, its about sport by the countries in CWG.It should not just be looked at the minority of the sport's persons who can't attend the sports (how great they are ) , rather it has to look how the brand can improve the sport and help budding sports person in the CWG countries where the sporting culture is in developing stage or not much developed.

    I hope winning two golds by India today might increase the attendance in future events.

    Also spoken english in India is mostly referred as Desi English, Hinglish :)

    Would see If I can attend 2014 Scotland CWG :) and backpack along West Highland Way :)


  • Comment number 49.


    You asked

    How do you think we could get more crowds to events?

    Since I have a bit of time I will try to give you a oneline half serious action plan for each of the sport

    Hockey - we should stsrt getting better crowds for the evening matches especially when India plays. If you want to savour hockey atmosphere try to get into the India- Pakistan group match. free Tickets to be sent to Union Academy, SS Khalsa and Khalsa school - all Delhi schools with great hockey tradition. Get all the students of the Sports School at Rai for games like hockey, gymnastics. Rai school not being in Delhi is open and all the students can be brought in quickly.

    Tennis - Should improve by the weekend when we get into the serious end of business. It would have helped if Sania Mirza had not decided to get married.

    Wrestling - It will be tough to get too many for the Greco Roman but should get better during the freestyle bouts. Send free tickets for all the trainees at trainees at all the akharas (traditional wrestling academies around Delhi)

    Shooting - Do not worry that place will always be noisy with Indian Electronic Media always present in numbers.

    Netball - Spread the word that the best looking babes are . You will get enough crowd.

    Swinmming - This will be tough as will have to force kids to come in . Offer free tickets to the YMCA who organise the best swimming meets in Delhi and to inhabitants of Munirka - the old delhivillage which was the nursery of Indian swimming till the real estate guys killed it of.

    Gymnastics - Rai Schhool and other Delhi schools

    TT - Go through the Delhi TT guys they are very good at conducting tournaments.

    Badminton - This should buld up especially if Saina and Jwala do well.

    Athletics - Major effort will be required to get to even 40% capacity. This calls for getting games volunteers, the army regiments especially Rajputana Rifles (which has produced atleast 3 Olympic athletic finalists ) to be bussed in. Get sports school students from Lucknow, Gwalior if they are not here already.

    Cyclying - Concentrate on getting school kids from Noida , Trans Yamuna areas. Use Mark Cavendish for a quick electronic media campaign. Infact that should be strategy for other sports also. Concentrate on the greats who have come to the games. India loves personalities.

    Boxing - Since India is a serious contender this should not be problem.Use Vijender and co for some promotion.

    Just some quick fix solutions. I am sure a lot more can be thought off.

  • Comment number 50.

    40. At 11:24am on 05 Oct 2010, Sanjeev wrote:
    Let the government announce that is is for free! I wouldn't want to start a stampede or riot by suggesting that.

  • Comment number 51.

    Congratulations John for the gold in swimming. What have they chosen to play at the Medal Ceremony? I hope it is Flower of Scotland.

  • Comment number 52.

    Wow, Yogye thank you for all the suggestions, and yes it is Flower of Scotland as that was the song chosen by the athletes as they got to pick irt

    Will get back to these later

  • Comment number 53.


    However just remember that nothing much except some things to show that they are doing something will be done. They will hope that things will improve on their own. That is the nature of the beast that is the present Indian dispensation.

    We have a saying in India that China grows during daytime because of its government while India grows at night when the government is sleeping.

  • Comment number 54.

    53. At 4:46pm on 05 Oct 2010, Yogye wrote:

    We have a saying in India that China grows during daytime because of its government while India grows at night when the government is sleeping.

    Dear Yogye,

    I like that. Can I let you into a great secret? What makes the Chinese successful? It is because they eat pork! Try that! Pork-Vegetables 1:0.
    But I am a squeamish sort of fellow: tell me, what grows at night in India unbeknown to the government? Bacteria, viruses, etc. excepted.

  • Comment number 55.

    Ian Cheese

    Stop trolling.

  • Comment number 56.

    55. At 6:50pm on 05 Oct 2010, Yogye wrote:

    Ian Cheese

    Stop trolling.


    Can't help it because I also do that in real life! But, seriously, why did you bring in the Chinese? I couldn't make anything of them except that they like pork & appear to be very successful. Compared to India, that is.

  • Comment number 57.

    raghuram wrote [17]:

    "The slums which every Tom, Dick and Harry in the British Media is so concerned about are all illegally occupied by the immigrant laborers from neighboring states, so the question of dislocating them for the games does not arise."

    Hmmm... did you really mean your point to come out that way? It sounds like you're saying that because they are there illegally, they are just non-people, so the government can do what it likes with them and it doesn't count?

    I kind-of get the impression - and without wanting to lump a lot of different people together, I got it from a lot of the comments on Tom Fordyce's blog - that you are taking a legitimate criticism of the moral circumstances surrounding the games, and blowing it up to be some kind national slight on India. A kind of tacky post-colonial one-upmanship. Honestly, it isn't intended that way.

    As John B points out, they pulled a similar stunt in Melbourne four years ago. Happens in the UK too - I used to live in Edinburgh myself, where the police famously decamped homeless people from the city centre in the run-up to the Festival (and then denied it). This is far from being something unique to these games, and far from being a slight on India itself - which is an incredible country.

    But to ignore these things and pretend they're not happening - or indeed to forget that they are actually more important than who wins bronze in the lawn bowls - is surely not something we should be advocating?

  • Comment number 58.

    Regarding people being evicted for games village there is an article in British newspaper which says many people and businesses evicted for London olympics have not been given any compensation and are suing now. If you read Tom Fordyces disgraceful blog the person who has given the last comment has given a link to this article

  • Comment number 59.

    Why the hell is the medals tally out of date???????

  • Comment number 60.

    @G_K___ wrote
    I am not justifying the dislocation of the slum dwellers in Delhi, but we need to understand the fact that most of these people are not exactly homeless, they do have homes in their villages in neighboring states. They come to cities like Delhi looking for better wages and there is a huge demand for these immigrates due to their cheap labour. This large scale immigration of villagers to cities is one of the biggest problems which the central government along with the state governments has to address. There is a need for employment generation in villages also, especially during floods and droughts (60% of India's population live in the rural area). Though the government has come up with several schemes, taking the population of a country like India into account and the kind of corruption that is prevalent here, am sure it will takes years for problems of such nature to be addressed. The saddest part is that the government of India is spending millions for the benefit of the poor, but only a fraction of it really reaches them. There is no accountability factor across all departments, since corruption is the mother of all evils in India.

  • Comment number 61.

    58. At 00:24am on 06 Oct 2010, belur wrote:
    ...many people and businesses evicted for London olympics have not been given any compensation and are suing now.

    Dear Belur,

    That is the point surely: people have legal redress in the UK by & large.
    OK, you say that many of the people in Delhi who have been displaced to make way for the games did not own the land to begin with. What about the concept of 'custom & practice'. They have been there for sometime.

  • Comment number 62.

    ''England women's hockey coach Danny Kerry slammed Commonwealth Games organisers after his team were forced to play in baking and 'dangerous' 40-degree temperatures''

    Give up guys what do you expect when you got play in different country. I hope they might not ask for indoor hockey stadium with air conditioning.
    Haaaaaaaaaaaa Bloody whimps

  • Comment number 63.

    ''England women's hockey coach Danny Kerry slammed Commonwealth Games organisers after his team were forced to play in baking and 'dangerous' 40-degree temperatures''


    I think no team should call themselves 'CHAMPS' if you can not compete in different kinda weather or conditions around the world. If someone has issues, then please dont compete and accept that you're too soft and fragile types! This is 'October Heat' in India, a geographical phenomenon, where the temperature rises after the monsoons to soak up the humidity before the onset of winters. The organisers should have thought about this 7 years back and in view of the softness of some teams, should have proposed the games in starting of December or November end. The temperature is around 33-34 and will start reducing after Dusshera (Indian Festival) i.e. 17th Oct!!

    Ohh C'mon dont tell me, Melbourne or Las Vegas is not baking hot in their summers!!

  • Comment number 64.

    I forgot to mention something about the Tickets for CWG games.

    I had a harrowing time trying to buy tickets in Gurgaon today. The counter opened at 12:00 in the noon and I had to take talkf day off and I waited almost 3 hours as I reached at 09:30 in the morning! Anyways, hard work paid off. I boughts tickets for Athletics, diving, boxing and hockey!!

    But I was really cheesed off by the distribution strategy of the CWG tickets. C'mon how can you expect to see people coming to see the games if the process of buying tickets is so tough. the online bookings erratic and would NOT work for JUST ME I thought. I got to know , even if I had any luck, I'd have to go and collect the tickets or else receive them after 2 days via courier! I tried booking them via phone and the guy said it'll take 4-5 days for delivery!! Can you beat it???! That's when I decided to go to the retail outlet myself and boy there was 'CHAOS' but I being an Indian and accustomed to my 'Indian ways' managed to get MY TICKETS!!! ;)

    I think they could have done better by allowing people to bring in electronic tickets (like they do with the airlines) and before that 'TESTED' the god damn website thoroughly before throwing it open for public. They could also have contracted coffee chains like Barista, Cafe coffee day and others like ALL banks, credit card companies to sell the tickets. I have to admit that I could have put in efforts to buy tickets much earlier but then again...I'm an Indian...a late comer!!! haha..well, thats just a pun so dont grin, I actually drew interest after seeing some of the action of late on the TV.

  • Comment number 65.

    63. At 1:34pm on 06 Oct 2010, Varun wrote:
    ''England women's hockey coach Danny Kerry slammed Commonwealth Games organisers after his team were forced to play in baking and 'dangerous' 40-degree temperatures''

    I think no team should call themselves 'CHAMPS' if you can not compete in different kinda weather or conditions around the world. If someone has issues, then please dont compete and accept that you're too soft and fragile types!
    Absolutely bang-on Varun! The Brits have no case here & I will be the first one to kick them up their backsides!

  • Comment number 66.

    65. At 2:53pm on 06 Oct 2010, you wrote:
    63. At 1:34pm on 06 Oct 2010, Varun wrote:
    ''England women's hockey coach Danny Kerry slammed Commonwealth Games organisers after his team were forced to play in baking and 'dangerous' 40-degree temperatures''

    I think no team should call themselves 'CHAMPS' if you can not compete in different kinda weather or conditions around the world. If someone has issues, then please dont compete and accept that you're too soft and fragile types!


    Dear Varun,

    I will do one better than what I said in my previous posting.
    I will meet them when they arrive home ( I won't mention where i.e. airport, etc. because they will be protected by the police). I will do my best to kick each & everyone up therir backsides! And specially Danny Kerry! How about that?

  • Comment number 67.

    64. At 1:54pm on 06 Oct 2010, Varun wrote:
    I forgot to mention something about the Tickets for CWG games...
    Dear Varun,

    Bureaucracy eh?
    Now, be honest, the Indians are the greatest culprits when it comes to bureaucracy. A little baksheesh, perhaps?

  • Comment number 68.

    I don't agree with your comment about the NDTV's ad shout... It may be wrong English, but its not incorrect Indian English. Check this link

  • Comment number 69.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ian Cheese:

    Dear Varun,

    Bureaucracy eh?
    Now, be honest, the Indians are the greatest culprits when it comes to bureaucracy. A little baksheesh, perhaps?

    I would say so. It is bureaucracy. Infact, it reflects and mirrors the bureaucracy everywhere anything related to the government handling. Barring few things like Railway reservations and a few others. But things are improving, we need to increase that pace.

  • Comment number 71.

    Dear Varun,

    re-notorious Indian Bureaucracy

    You need a vigorous pressure group to campaign for an end to unnecessary red tape. In short, a campaign for efficiency. Cut out the dead wood both in personnel & practices. It is happening here in the UK all the time.


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