They lied to us.
Here we are in September 2010 and despite constant reassurance coming from officials in India, the Commonwealth games are not, and will not, be ready for the opening next week. Speculation has been rife for months as sources have continually leaked information to the media, suggesting that it’s highly unlikely India will be prepared to host the games which are due to commence on the 3rd of October.
Sadly, this week the speculation has turned factual, with a series of events that highlight just how unprepared this country really is. The situation is dire, the games are in doubt and ultimately, India have failed miserably.
The week from hell started on Sunday 19th September when two Taiwanese tourists were brutally shot in what appeared to be a random attack of terror by two Indian men riding motorbikes outside the Jama Masjid Mosque, just a short drive from downtown Delhi. This came just hours after concerns were raised as to the increasing likelihood of terror attacks occurring during the games. It has been reported that one risk assessment firm has suggested that there is an eighty percent chance of an attack occurring during the games, with another firm suggesting the chance is fifty percent. Either way, it’s a risk that our athletes shouldn’t be taking.
If this wasn’t enough to put concerns and doubts into the minds of the athletes, officials and spectators, the events of the next two days surely would have. It all started on Tuesday 21st September when the New Zealand chef de mission, David Currie, expressed his concerns over New Zealand’s accommodation for the two week period of the games. He claims the accommodation was, “Not up to scratch,” and that he’d held discussions with New Zealand Prime Minister, John Kelly, who went as far as saying, “There is no point sending the athletes to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.” The New Zealand Olympic Committee has since stated that they will have a decision by Friday as to whether or not they’ll send athletes to the games.
In the other major event of the day, a footbridge just a few hundred meters from the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed and injured almost thirty people, five of which seriously. The footbridge to the games main stadium, which has previously been plagued by delayed construction, gave way while many labourers were working frantically to get the structure fixed in time before the athletes arrive next week. Four remain in critical condition with doctors stating there are no signs of improvement.
Then on Wednesday 22 September, part of the roof at the official weightlifting venue of the games collapsed to once again highlight the rushed, sub-standard construction techniques being used by contractors in a bid to get the venues ready in time. Fortunately no workers were hurt. In addition to these construction nightmares, foreign sources in Delhi are reporting that the main stadium is still weeks away from completion and is currently without seats, while the accommodation facilities in the athletes village have been described as “inhuman and appalling.”
The timing of these events couldn’t be worse for India, a country which has successfully held a number of large scale sporting events, predominantly cricket, in recent years. In addition to these successful events, the country of over a billion people has been experiencing a rapid expansion in economic growth and had recently been touted by many economists as a the boom country of the next decade. With large amounts of human and natural resources, in 2008 India was the world’s second fastest growing major economy and was predicted to be amongst the leading economies in the world by 2020.
Holding the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi was meant to be an opportunity to showcase the countries development over recent years and to confirm their place as a potential super-power of the global economy. However sadly, the events of the last week have done nothing but ruin this reputation and hinder the good work of many people. If the trend continues, investors will lose faith in the Indian market and they risk falling off the radar for a number of years. After taking so many steps forward over the last decade, it’s such a shame that they could end up taking just as many back.