Saturday, October 2, 2010

Commonwealth or War Games?

A HAPPY BUNCH: Some of the Indian team members pose with ‘Shera’ during the flag hosting ceremony at the Games Village on Friday. — PHOTO: K MURALI KUMAR

By S. Thyagarajan

NEW DELHI: Does sport continue to be an instrument of peace and harmony? If visionaries like Baron Pierre Coubertin, the author of the Modern Olympic Games, and Rev. Ashley Cooper, who sowed the seeds for a sports festival for the English speaking people, which we call the Commonwealth Games, were to witness what has corrupted their concept, their anguish would be immeasurable.
A siege!

Enveloped by a security blanket, the national Capital mirrors the elements of a siege. A visitor entering this metropolis will be startled by the indifference and apathy, a total lack of gaiety even with only two days remaining for the Opening Ceremony.
Flags, banners and pennants that actually accentuate the people’s involvement in a sporting extravaganza are conspicuous by their absence. Even the few are confined to a few areas.
The myriad loose ends are appalling in every segment of the run-up to the Games. And they continue to be so, with more and more glitches surfacing by the hour.
Sport is perceived as a vehicle of pleasure towards conquering new frontiers of excellence, but today its predominating sentiment is fear, compounded by the lack of compunction in giving in to the temptations of wealth and dope.
It is the fear complex that has forced quite a few stars to skip the Games, notwithstanding the reiterations by the powers-that-be that every inch of the city is under surveillance.
Added to this is the lack of a financial benefit, apart from the joy of climbing the podium. The threat to modern mega sporting events collapsing in a financial mess stems from the growing gigantism, which Coubertin and Cooper wanted the host to avoid.


But commercialisation of sport has contributed enormously to this line of thinking. With 17 disciplines, CWG-2010, the 19th edition, becomes the costliest in the annals of the Commonwealth Games.
Probably, no other sporting event, including the Olympics, was disgraced by polemics as this venture is. Nothing seems to have moved in the right direction, but by the time the disintegration began to hit the face, efforts were redoubled involving multiple agencies, which proved to be insufficient to eradicate all the perversities that had manifested themselves thanks to the relentless focus by the media.
The mood here now seems to be one of despair, to run the event somehow, regardless of the criticisms and controversies waiting to erupt both at home and abroad. The image anyway has been tarnished, and the cosmetics applied in the eleventh hour are unlikely to obliterate the odium associated with Commonwealth Games 2010.

The Hindu