Thursday, September 23, 2010

Delhi not first city to be scrutinized for holding major sporting event

Delhi is not the first host of a major sporting event to come under intense scrutiny in the build-up to the opening ceremony and the start of competition.

According to a report in The Scotsman, a nation hosting any event of international significance attracts increasing media attention, as has Delhi for the alleged preparatory mess connected to the XIXth Commonwealth Games.

For instance, the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, saw delighted Greeks welcoming the Games as homecoming after two millennia.

But the original estimate cost of one billion pounds soon tripled, and the roof of the main stadium was completed only three months before the opening ceremony was due to take place.

The roof for the swimming pool was abandoned, so competitors had to cope with sweltering heat, while the city also struggled to implement transport projects as traffic in Athens is often near gridlock.

The International Olympic Committee was perhaps more forgiving about the situation than the Commonwealth Games Federation appears to be about India's current predicament.

One IOC member said at the time: "The truth is Mediterranean countries are pretty relaxed about meeting deadlines.

"If you look back at Sydney they were probably over-staffed, marginally over-efficient and a little too early. That is not the Greek way."

Edinburgh experienced its own problems when hosting the 1986 Commmonwealth Games when 32 nations, mainly from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, withdrew because of England's links with South Africa.

The boycott, together with a lack of sponsorship and additional security costs, left organizers facing a four million pound cash deficit and it was left to the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell to bail out the games.

By comparison with Delhi, Asia's first Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur was a huge success, attracting record numbers of participants and TV audiences.

Beijing's Olympic Games also suffered its fair share of controversy, but none relating to buildings and infrastructure. Critics said that thousands of people were displaced by construction projects.

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