NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Boos for boss Kalmadi at CWG opening

Boos for boss Kalmadi at CWG opening

October 04, 2010 08:44 IST

A spectacular opening ceremony was still not able to disguise India's shortcomings in the build up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. 

And what greater proof than the 60,000-odd fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium booing Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president and CWG Organising Committee (OC) Suresh Kalmadi each time he was seen on the giantscreen and also when he came out to make his customary opening ceremony speech. 

The preparations to the Delhi Games have been marred with corruption, delays in getting the venues and Games Villages ready on time, poor quality of construction, sanitation and other such issues. 

Suresh KalmadiAnd the packed stadium made their frustrations clear as they booed Kalmadi repeatedly, while cheering for popular leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former President Dr. Adul Kalam. 

Kalmadi, though, tried to downplay the incident and proclaimed how hard his team had worked to get the Games ready on time.

 "It took seven years of effort to get the Games ready and it showed the determination of a Super Power. I think today we have showed that India is ready to host the Commonwealth Games," Kalmadi said.

 The Games have cost the country a fortune as nearly Rs 70,000 crore have gone into it. When India bid for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, their budget was expected to be around $210 million, but since then rampant corruption and delay in construction have seen the budget soar to nearly $15.5 billion.

 Despite making such a big hole in the country's pockets, Kalmadi believes that the Games may help the Indian economy to grow.

 "India is the second fastest growing economy in the world and I expect the Commonwealth Games to contribute significantly to our economy," he said.

The veteran administrator also took the opportunity to make a few potshots at the media, who had reported the shoddy preparations to the Games.

"Despite the adverse publicity about security, health, infrastructure and heavy rain, all Commonwealth Games Associations have stood by India as Delhi 2010 becomes the largest ever in the history of the Commonwealth Games. More than 6,800 athletes and team officials from all the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth have showcased their faith in India by confirming their participation," Kalmadi said.

He also tried to impress upon the athletes and said, "We have designed these Games around you. Be it the Games Village or the competition venues, the facilities have all been created with you in mind. You have told me over the past week that you are enjoying the stay in the Village and it is better than many that you have been to. I have always believed that while you would come to Delhi as friends, you will return as family."

Even the media personnel had a tough time as they tried to report on the opening ceremony. Many of the photographers and reporters were assigned seats in the stands with small seats where they could hardly sit let alone use their laptops and cameras.

The spectators also complained after they were not allowed to carry even their mobile phones or cameras. Many big events like the Football World Cup or the Olympic Games allow spectators to carry cameras so they can keep the memories forever, but in Delhi the fans were not even allowed to get their cars even a couple of kilometers near the stadium forcing them to use the metro railway trains, which were running way behind schedule on the Games Venues line.

Kalmadi concluded his speech with India's greatest statesman, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's words: "It is our tryst with destiny .. yet again!".

One is sure that even Nehru would have been booed then!

Harish Kotian in New Delhi