Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Commonwealth Games

India should have quit Commonwealth when it became a republic. It continued in Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Games are to be held in Delhi in October 2010. Mani Shankar Aiyar wants the games to flop so that India does not bid for Asian Games and Olympics and waste its money. He has said that India paid one lakh dollars in bribes to each delegate to get votes for staging Commonwealth Games. He was Sports Minister and foresaw that the games will be a disaster due to the functioning of Indian Olympic Association (IOA). His predecessor Sunil Dutt had a tough time and he died. IOA officials did not want to interact with Mani Shankar Aiyar and they told him to send Sports Secretary and he also died. Mani Shankar Aiyar wanted a special committee be set up to oversee the preparations for Commonwealth Games as India did for Asian Games 1982 but that did not happen. In 2006 Commonwealth Games Federation chief had expressed concern in private that IOA was lagging behind in preparation. In March 2009 it was public. After that various deadlines were set to be extended further. Now just around 60 days are left for games. Stadia are not ready and rains have exposed the shoddy construction.

Swapan Dasgupta agrees with Mani Shankar Aiyar. There is disconnect between people who think holding the games as national pride and other people. He did not say he wants the games to flop but if Mani Shankar Aiyar is anti-national so is he.

Crores of rupees are to be spent on opening and closing ceremonies. The Group of Ministers had a preview of the ceremonies and they want Islamic culture to be added to it. Islam is a religion and not a culture. Muslims have different cultures. The culture of Muslims of Kerala is different from the culture of Muslims of Uttar Pradesh. Too bad our ministers don’t know such things.

IOA is not answerable to government. Sports Ministers Mohinder Singh Gill’s attempts to regulate the terms of office bearers of IOA and its affiliates have failed. Athletes have talked of sexual harassment.

IOA has a contract with an Australian company for sponsorship deals for Commonwealth Games. The company gets 10%-20% commission of all sponsorships IOA gets whether they come through the company or not. The company did not get many sponsorships. Now Public Undertakings are asked to sponsor the games and the company will get commission.

India took it upon itself to host Commonwealth Games so it has to fulfil its obligation but quit Commonwealth after the games. Since the Indian government has no say in the functioning of IOA it should stop financing IOA and get back stadia, buildings and whatever else is given to them. What India has achieved in Olympics is mostly in spite of IOA. IOA should finance itself like BCCI.

There are reports of cost overruns and corruption in the construction of stadia and flyovers. CNN-IBN has referred to Commonwealth Games as Corruption Wealth Games.

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