A sports event of any magnitude is bound to excite the passions of the enduring sports enthusiast. The buzz that accompanies it too is supposed to be almost fever pitch and reaching climax highs once the event starts.
For all African sports or otherwise, this year has been really 'sportified' if there is such a word. Starting with an African Cup of Nations that almost stalled before it started, the 2010 World Cup, the African Athletics Championships among other highlights; the next stop is the Commonwealth Games - New Delhi - India ( what they are calling, Friendly Games)
This lore started by the British to cater for its colonies or territories is supposedly the 3rd largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games *( this one is disputable) . In fact it was initially known as the British Empire Games!
Pre-2010 World Cup ,most pundits had initially expressed their doubts of the African continent hosting such a major event. South Africa shown the light for Africa and didn't disappoint ( proving even our pessimist bone wrong...)
(Logo from the 2010 Commonwealth Games website,http://www.cwgdelhi2010.com/)
Fast forward the Asian sub-continent with India in the spotlight. Now this is one of the greatest sporting nation known more for its exploits in cricket, archery, hockey, indoor games such as squash among others. They earned the right to hold Games and sought to prove themselves as the next frontier, after China wowed us in 2008 with its Beijing Games.
Allegations of corruption, poor workmanship and delays in venues are among the woes that the New Delhi authorities are fighting with. Word has it that the Indian Government might be felled by this event if all these allegations finger any authorities in the power allays. This might also cost India future bids for Olympics or any major event of its kind.
While we are not at liberty to pass judgement, 1 and 1/2 month into the event, isn't it time we wondered if these Games are doing us any good? The current bill that India incurs for hosting it stands at US$ 1.6 billion - easily making it the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.
There are also the numerous sporting disciplines that have aligned their calendars accordingly to try accommodate their teams honouring their presence there. Rugby, athletics, swimming are some of the main ones. Already 3 major stars in athletics who would have featured in the Games have withdrawn, Usain Bolt of course being the biggest.
We also know of the ever lurking danger of 'terrorists' and their attention-seeking methods. New Delhi was visited by these in 2008 and has been a fragile city given the islands and aggressive neighbours surrounding the Federal State of India. Security has over 100,000 security officials seeking to make it impregnable to these elements.
We also know the weather conditions that have hit Asia and the northern hemisphere. With some places recording dangerously high rainfall levels, and others having temperatures soaring into their 30s and 40 degrees Centigrade, it is NOT your sports person's favourite haunt.
Just like many other Games of such proportions, what legacy do they leave for New Delhi and India as a whole? There are many concerns that some of the venues may turn out to dumpsites and wasting white elephants ....
Regarding appearances as has become of such national representation, some elite sportsmen may opt to give them a pass. We all know there is nothing much coming in the way of athletes and sports people except for a nice medal and photo op which most can't trade for their appearance fees in more lucrative events. This makes the Games lacklustre, ensuring media rights become a hard sell for the organisers.
When all's said and done, while we join the bandwagon of critics (and not proposing any recommendations), it's about time we started calling it like it is ...on some of these Games. Read about more of the Games here and concerns about the safety.