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The New Delhi games mess

I’m finding the situation in New Delhi fascinating.

For those outside the Commonwealth and/or who haven’t heard, the city is having enormous problems getting ready for the Commonwealth Games. Sure, there are always stories like this ahead of big events, but in this case, there’s been an apparent terrorist attack (several tourists injured in a gun attack on a bus on Sunday), complaints about the athletes’ village being incomplete and unhygienic, a bridge collapsed (also injuring a number of people, on Tuesday), and part of a venue ceiling collapsing (on Wednesday) — and the Games are due to start in about a week and a half.

As it happens, last week I noted season one of the satirical TV series The Games on sale for $10 and snapped it up. It pokes fun at the preparations for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, with things like the 100 metre running track they discover is too short, and the transport crisis meeting that’s cancelled because the traffic is so bad nobody can attend. But I don’t think it covers anything quite so serious as what’s going on in Delhi.

One of the reasons I find the Delhi problems interesting is that in my paid work, we deal with IT people in India, and I went to a briefing which covered some of the cultural differences. One of the things I was told is that the culture is one of pride, and wanting to be seen to be helpful and able to do the job… to the point where sometimes if someone is asked if they can get the job done, they’ll readily say “yes! No problems!” even when it’s going to be quite difficult and complicated, and just getting it finished is not a foregone conclusion.

It may be a simplistic way of looking at it, but I wonder if a bit of that has gone on with the Games.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’d be great if the event goes off without major problems, proving that developing countries like India are able to meet the challenge, just as South Africa did earlier in the year with the World Cup.

But at present, you’d have to say it’s not looking great.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “The New Delhi games mess”

Yeah. Things not looking too crash hot.
Not sure why Indians can’t clean rooms in the competitors village given that
they manage to keep the rooms in the (many) 5-star hotels spic-and-span. They can’t have run out of cleaners.
PS Many Pacific Island people also say “yes” when asked to do tasks in effort to please – even if they’re not sure what to do.

** Loved** “The Games. Don’t think it exists on DVD Region 2 or would have bought it years ago, especially with London 2012 rapidly approaching! ;-) Still love the VHS copies of some episodes I acquired from a certain highly valued Australian friend some years ago!

Re Delhi: I think there’s a great deal in what you say. The desire to say “yes” as a way of not offending is actually very widespread and applies (under rather different circumstances) in Japan, too. I;ve seen it have hilarious consequences; outcomes can be rather more serious, though.

To be fair, **all** major events of this sort tend to end up with complexes looking like building sites frighteningly close to the opening of the games. Athens Olympics, anyone? They all tend to have worked out in the end, though.

That said, if there really **are** only 18 of 34 blocks of flats for athletes completed LESS THAN TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE GAMES then (a) this is a disgrace and (b) someone should really have noticed before now!

One of the joys of the Commonwealth Games is the freight and easy going nature of them, which still seem to represent genuine sporting rivalry as opposed to vast amounts of national pride (the same is true of the Paralympics). I hope with all my heart that this ethos will underpin the Delhi games and that it will all prove to have been a bit of media frenzy.

Not currently looking brilliant on that score, though, is it?

I have colleagues over in Delhi covering the games for print media – the media hub where we are stationed still has no proper internet (!), despite the event being a week away.

Normally we set up a few weeks before to ensure the systems and tunneling are up and running and thoroughly tested, well before the journos and pictorial staff arrive. This time time it’s a completely different story to that of the Beijing experience.

Also, one of my guys was meant to be at the wrestling stadium (which had the collapsed roof) in just over a week – scary stuff if you ask me (and him).

Personally, this is one games I would find scary to attend, as either spectator or support staff…

Ah. Thanks for that, Daniel. I’ll keep a look out now.

@mikeys For comparison, the London 2012 Olympics Press and Media Centre already had BBC and NBC staff in place in the building LAST JANUARY!

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