Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why did we even give it to them? - India games 2010

IF you thought Delhi's Commonwealth Games might have plunged the future of this event into doubt, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Here is the ultimate symbol of all that is wrong with the Commonwealth Games - 24 nations chose Abuju, Nigeria, ahead of successful 2014 hosts Glasgow in the 2007 vote on where the Games should be held.

For those who aren't acquainted with the geo-political scene, Nigeria could be loosely described as a hell-hole.

Just last week three bombs went off in Abuju, killing nine people, with the oil-rich country rife with bombings of the pipe-line, terrorist threats and the kidnapping of foreigners.

The Australian government warns against travel there "due to the high threat of terrorist attack, the high risk of kidnapping, the unpredictable security situation, and the high level of violent crime".
It makes India look like Paradise.
Yet if just 12 more of the 71 countries - many of them third-world - had voted for Nigeria, then that's where the Games would have been held in four years.

With countries like Australia, New Zealand and England no chance to send athletes, it would have killed the Commonwealth Games.
If you ask the public, who are voting with their television remotes as well as feet, they might be already on life support.
India has spent $10 billion on this event yet allowed such a string of constant controversies they have overshadowed the actual athletes and their competitions.
The question is this: what happens now?
How does a Commonwealth Games often mocked as the school sports recover from this blow?
Or will Delhi's overblown event become in retrospect the beginning of the end?
What is clear is that the Commonwealth Games are now a niche event that must be held only in countries where the elite sporting bodies will attend.

It is a harsh reality, but without the stars this event is nothing.
Had Usain Bolt turned up, he might have saved this entire event.

Is it time for three or four established countries to rotate the hosting of these Games if they are to continue?
Scotland's Glasgow will host a solid, respectable event in 2014, although already the BBC has pulled out of coverage and financial estimates are ballooning.

Only the athletes' village and two more venues will be built new, but the initial budget is still about $750 million.
One readers' comment on newspaper The Scotsman's website this week said it all.
"One possible way to make the Glasgow games a success is to make them the last Commonwealth Games ever," it said.
"The event is hardly relevant these days. Whatever ties the countries together, it isn't sport.''
The Gold Coast is almost certain to host the 2018 version and mayor Ron Clarke believes the Games need his city.

"We could stage a wonderful Commonwealth Games and, if necessary, we could be the saviour of them," he said.

"The Games need resurrection. They need a couple of good Games coming up, and they need a Games on the Gold Coast.''

Queensland plans to host a cheap Games featuring existing venues, green themes and community involvement.
Yet, once again, Commonwealth Games and world politics means they are no guarantee to win the bid.
Their sole competition is the tiny Sri Lankan town of Hambantota, backed by Chinese money as it attempts to turn itself into a major shipping port.

It is in a major shipping channel, so the bid has nothing to do with sport and everything to do with politics and building international profile.

The Gold Coast will find out November 11 next year if they are successful but, clearly, awarding the Games to a city of 11,000 would be outfight farce.

Then again, who anything surprise after this week?

Big nations such as Australia and England are already seen as international bullies and cannot take control of the bidding procedure.

But if the Commonwealth Games are no longer a priority for star athletes, then this event truly is dead.
Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell has clearly been a frustrated man this week, pushing India's organising committee to deliver on their promises.

Instead those promises have been emptier than the stadiums.
Now for Fennell and Co comes the task of resuscitating a Games not too far from flat-lining.

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