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CommonWealth Games 2010, New Delhi, India... Are We Ready?

posted Dec 8, 2009, 10:58 PM by Amit Lohia   [ updated Dec 8, 2009, 11:01 PM ]
After the 1982 Asian Games, our next big date with sports is October 2010 (Apart from 1996 Cricket World Cup), when we host the 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Delhi. Hosting such prestigious event is certainly a great honor and a matter of pride for us. At the same time, it is a challenge for the government to get the requisite sports infrastructure and other amenities ready in time to stage the Games successfully.

Airport, transport and accommodation are the basic requirements, besides the sports venues for various events. Airport is being upgraded for receiving thousands of participants, officials, media personnel and spectators and transport infrastructure is being ramped up for smooth movement of visitors within the city. Delhi Metro is speedily rolling-out its network and is planning for feeder bus services to areas adjoining the stations. Low-floor buses and air-conditioned buses are already crisscrossing the city and signaling system is getting an ‘intelligent make-over’ for superior traffic management. New hotels and housing projects are coming up and existing ones are being renovated to accommodate the visitors.

As an allied beneficiary, tourism ministry is actively promoting its Atithi Devo Bhavah (Guest is God) campaign to sensitize the stakeholders towards tourists, through a process of training and orientation. It is busy creating awareness about the positive impact of tourism on local economy, building importance of basic hygiene and hospitality and emphasizing the need for preservation of our rich heritage and culture.

Moreover, HDTV broadcast (high definition TV) is scheduled for launch by 2010 to bring lively coverage of the event to our living rooms. 3G (third generation) telecoms services are also expected to be fully operational by then to provide a similar experience to its ‘users on the move’. Both these technologies will offer ‘near-live experience’, “at a distance”, indirectly bringing down some burden on the transport system. And, newly set-up UIDAI (Unique ID Authority of India) may play a vital role in making the Capital ‘secure’ by issuing biometric ID cards to all the citizens of Delhi-NCR, well before the Games start.

Agreed that CWG 2010 is a big opportunity for government departments and private sector businesses, to demonstrate their competencies and showcase country’s developments to the world. However, the Games chief has recently found Delhi’s preparedness as inadequate and has appealed for prime ministerial intervention to speed up the work. But our focus on games infrastructure readiness and event organization must not end up in “we also participated in the sports event”.

Our performance in the last few Games has been fairly ordinary and far below our stature. We only managed to get 4th rank from 71 participating nations, by winning 7% medals from around 250 events, in the last two editions. Prior to that, our record was poorer with merely 3.5% of the medals to our credit. As against that, Australia has been on top every time, winning 25-30 % of the medals. And, top three nations – Australia, England and Canada, together claimed around 60% medals on each occasion.

For the sake of CWG and our sportspersons, it is high time that we get the focus of our sports policy right. We must get out of controversies like ‘stand on WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) guidelines’, selection of injured players, pay-offs for selection in teams etc and draw-up an event-wise plan to hit a century of medals at XIX Games. The plan must be made public, coaches and selectors should be given targets and state-wise implementation programme must be monitored to achieve the targets.

Wherever necessary, our cricket board (BCCI) - one of the richest sports bodies in the world – and other sponsors must be tapped for funds, to support the development of sports in the country. Aim should be no less than 100 medals in Delhi and at least 25% share of medals in the next Commonwealth Games at Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.