India Needs to Expedite Preparations for 2010 Commonwealth Games

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Feb. 26 – A parliamentary panel released a report on Wednesday stating that the Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in New Delhi in October 2010 would need nothing short of a miracle to be completed on schedule. At a time when India and China are competing neck and neck for Asian dominance, India seems drastically under prepared for what the country hails as India’s Olympics. According to the report, only half of the 30,000 extra hotel rooms and most of the sporting venues needed would be completed by October.

The panel blames the lackadaisical attitude on the poor coordination between the various government agencies. "The 2010 games are drawing near and so many projects are yet to be initiated, let alone being completed," the AFP quoted the report by the panel on transport and tourism headed by federal lawmaker Sitaram Yechury.

The slow pace of work on the stadiums and accommodation facilities has already prompted the world badminton championships which were to be held in August this year to be shifted to Hyderabad. Additionally, organizers of this year's separate Commonwealth boxing championships sought a postponement from October to next March due to the incomplete indoor stadium in New Delhi. The hockey World Cup is still scheduled to be held in New Delhi in March next year.

Although the government is battling construction costs during the economic crisis official figures in December estimated the Commonwealth Games would demand around 79 billion rupees (US$1.6 billion), including the money spent on infrastructure and on last year's Commonwealth Youth Games.

Despite the problems, organizers remain optimistic. "The organizing committee is confident all the competition venues and Games village would be completed as per the target dates set for completion," vice-chairman Randhir Singh told Reuters.

"At most of the training venues work has already started while at the remaining (venues), work will be started shortly, but everything will be completed in time," he told a news conference at the netball venue under construction. Test events are planned for between February and June next year.

The Games village is being built on the banks of the Yamuna, one of India's major rivers. New Delhi is the second Asian city to host the Commonwealth Games after Kuala Lumpur hosted the 1998 edition. New Delhi has hosted the Asian Games twice, in 1951 and 1982.