Games' shame

India has rarely faced such an international embarrassment as that caused by the failure of the authorities to make adequate preparations for the Commonwealth Games which are just 10 days away, if at all they will take place. We had mentioned ensuring of security as the main challenge in the coming days, but it seems the provision of even minimum facilities for athletes and others is equally demanding. The Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Hooper has made a distress call to the prime minister’s office over the filth and dirt in the Games village. A foot overbridge under construction collapsed on Tuesday and a false ceiling came off on Wednesday. Athletes have withdrawn, some teams are planning to and many countries have expressed strong displeasure over the playing and living conditions.

The authorities had been warned for months about the delays and poor construction. Stories of large-scale corruption have come into the open. But everyone connected with the conduct of the Games assured the country and the world that everything would fall in place by the last day. But things are actually falling in pieces. No action was taken against the Games committee chief Suresh Kalmadi in spite of telling evidence about corruption. It is not just Kalmadi, who should have been shown the door long ago, but many others are also responsible for the shameful state of affairs. Every arrangement should have been ready by March this year, with only checking and trials to be done after that. Instead, work is still going on in many areas. Mosquito-infested swimming pools, leaking roofs, dirty and uninhabitable living areas with dogs’ defecation on athletes’ beds and other disasters that are sure to be revealed in the coming days: what else is needed to show the country in the poorest light before the world? The Games were expected to showpiece India’s ability to organise big world events. They have instead turned out to be a testimonial of our inability, incompetence, lackadaisical attitude, corrupt ways and callousness. When inadequacies came to light the authorities had the temerity to brazen them out and find fault with those who made the criticism. The name of the game is nothing but shame.

The buck does not stop at the Games authorities. The Delhi government and the Centre, including the PMO, had been well warned. Those who have brought nothing but shame to the country should be held accountable and punished.

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