INDIAN FEAT OF HOSTING COMMONWEALTH GAMES

ANISUDDIN KHAN
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Oct 18 - 24, 2010

India successfully hosted Commonwealth Games and achieved the aim of showing to the world its growing economic power. The government in New Delhi spent billions of dollars to improve transport infrastructure, created new sporting facilities and renovated the old ones to earn praise from some of the visiting officials and the Commonwealth Games governing board.

It was seven years ago that India bagged the right to host the Games. The two principal bids for the 2010 Games were from Delhi, India and Ontario, Canada. A ballot of members was held in November 2003 at the Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Delhi bid won by a margin of 46 votes to 22, confirming India's first successful bid for the Games. The bid was Canada's attempt to hold the games for the fifth time. India's bid motto was New Frontiers and Friendships.

India shifted the balance in its favour in the second round of voting with a promise that it would provide US$100,000 to each participating country, along with air tickets, boarding, lodging and transport. (Hamilton offered US$70,000 to each participants).

Hosting of the successful 2003 Afro-Asian Games held in Hyderabad (India) was also seen as having showed India has the resources, infrastructure and technical know-how to stage a big sporting event.

India was also grateful to Pakistan for winning the bid. It thanked Latif Butt, former vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia, for his support in the winning bid. The Indian officials thanked the Pakistani by saying "You played a vital role in the Commonwealth Games 2010 being allotted to India. Such actions are worthy of emulation by all concerned in Pakistan and India. We have no doubt that if both sides continue to live by such ideals, one day, sooner than later our generations to come will reap the benefits of and be grateful to those making such contributions. You would certainly be such person."

The Indian government stated that it would underwrite the total cost of the Games. Initially, several concerns and controversies surfaced before the start of the Games. Despite these concerns, all members nations of the Commonwealth of Nations participated in the event. A widely-praised opening ceremony helped improve the image of the Games. The concerns raised during the buildup to the Games proved largely unfounded as most events progressed smoothly. The final medal tally was led by Australia. The host nation India gave its strongest performance yet to emerge second, while England placed third. The games closed on 14th October in an appreciated closing ceremony, where the Commonwealth Games flag was handed over to representatives of Glasgow, Scotland, which will host the XX Commonwealth Games in 2014.

At the closing ceremony, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation declared that Delhi had hosted a "truly exceptional Games."

The initial total budget estimated by Indian Olympic Association in 2003 for hosting the Games was Rs16.2 billion (US$364.5 million) but escalated official total budget estimation in 2010 became Rs115 billion ($2.6 billion), which excludes non-sports-related infrastructure development in the city such as airports, city beautification and roads. The Games finally cost Rs300 billion ($6.8 billion).The 2010 Commonwealth Games are the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.

Known as an impoverished country of over a billion underfed citizens faced with millions of problem of various kinds, India for the first time through the Games proved that it had crossed the threshold and soon should be amongst the ranks of the fastest growing economy and an advanced nation.

It is not the first time when nations have used sports as vehicle to show to the world its growing economic power. Some European nations hosted Olympics only to prove their economic strength.

India did the same through the Commonwealth games. Though it is too early to shift India to the ranks of advanced country but the sports extravaganza which attracted nations from across the globe that once were part of the former British empire is certainly the first indication that India is galloping to soon become the biggest economic power in the region competing with its northern neighbor China for the leadership of Asia.

However, just few days before the opening, the organisers have to run the gauntlet of criticism from home and foreign media for its failure to complete all the arrangements before time. Some incidents like collapsing of a pedestrian bridge, unhygienic conditions at the games village and dogs and snakes freely entering the village rooms gave such a huge negative publicity to India that the government of prime minister Manmohan Singh had to intervene to improve things.

Though it was a delayed interference from the government quarters but it helped and things dropped into their place and saved the country from further blushes.

It was magnificent opening ceremony held at the stadium named after India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru that just washed away all the anti propaganda and suddenly praise started blowing from all direction.

Presence of Indian president Ms. Pratibha Patil and Prince Charles made the occasion memorable. The opening ceremony live telecast to half of the globe won many rounds of applause for India.

Pakistan has entered a 75-member contingent in the games. It succeeded in getting two gold and one silver in wrestling and two bronze in the boxing event.

However, the biggest disappointment for Pakistani contingent came in hockey, tennis and squash where it was expected to finish with medals.

In hockey, Pakistan had the chance to climb the medal podium but after losing to India 7-4 in the last match of group A played to decide a semi final place, Pakistan shockingly lost to South Africa in sudden death extra time to finish 6th.

Australia routed India 8-0 to win the hockey gold for the fourth time. India finished with a silver but losing to Australia in the final by huge margin affected the panned celebration. Pakistan's twosome tennis stars Aisamul Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan could perform as expected. Aisamul Haq who only four weeks ago had reached the men's doubles final of US open in New York made an early exit from the singles, so did Aqeel Khan. The duo also lost in the men's doubles.

Pakistan had entered a strong team in squash. The four most promising players could not cross beyond the pre quarter final stage. The event was dominated by England, Australia and New Zealand. Malaysia clinched a medal in women's event.

Pakistan's beginning at the Games was not good when the weight lifting team openly opposed chef de mission for carrying the national flag at the opening day march past. One could go on discussing who should have carried the flag for days and moths. But the Pakistani weight lifting team all belonging to Lahore were vocal against the chef de mission,

Dr M.A Shah who is a minister of sports in Sindh. Would sportsmen from Sindh have acted in the same manner had the same thing been don by a sports minister from Punjab, is being asked openly in sports circles.

The sportsmen had insulted a minister by raising slogans against him just before the contingent entered the arena. Not only that the weight lifters including Shujauddin Malik who had laid his claim for carrying the flag just because he had won a gold in the last Games in Melbourne, contacted local Indian media and gave stories which only brought bad publicity to Pakistan. Without going into the long discussion of the wrongness and rightness of the incident, the concerned government sports quarters should take action against weightlifter for breaching discipline and bringing bad name to the country. If they had any complaints it could have been settled after the Games. Shujauddin Malik had to make an early exit from the competition when he tore hand muscle while trying to lift heavier weight than expected. On returning home while explaining about his exit from the competition he spoke about being mentally depressed for not performing as expected and nowhere he mentioned about the muscle injury suffered while trying to lift heavier weights.

Those who concentrated and tried got medals. Wrestlers and boxers saved many blushes for Pakistan by winning medals. India organised even bigger closing ceremony to earn praise on October 14 afternoon when the curtain came down on New Delhi Commonwealth games.

GLASGOW WILL HOST THE NEXT GAMES FOUR YEARS FROM NOW.

RANK NATION GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
1 Australia 74 55 48 177
2 India 38 27 36 101
3 England 37 60 46 143
4 Canada 26 17 33 76
5 South Africa 12 11 10 33
6 Kenya 12 11 9 32
7 Malaysia 12 10 14 36
8 Singapore 11 11 9 31
9 Nigeria 11 8 14 33
10 Scotland 9 10 7 26
11 New Zealand 6 22 8 36
12 Cyprus 4 3 5 12
13 Northern Ireland 3 3 4 10
14 Samoa 3 0 1 4
15 Wales 2 7 10 19
16 Jamaica 2 4 1 7
17 Pakistan 2 1 2 5