Will India Win Gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games?

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By Shirley Liu and Seema Rani Bhende

NEW DELHI, Nov. 4 – With the start of the Commonwealth Games 2010 less than a year away, questions continue to be asked if India is truly up to the challenge. Over the last several months, there have been mounting concerns from reporters and Commonwealth Games officials that New Delhi is unprepared and seriously behind planning schedule, which has raised doubt on India’s ability to execute the Games in a sound fashion.

For example, Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, stated at a New Delhi press conference that the “2010 Commonwealth Games (are) on track, Sports Minister MS Gill, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Diskshit are working as a team to deliver a great Games.”

Likewise, in an article posted by dawn.com, it was cited that “2010 Commonwealth Games is facing challenges as game organizers are woefully unprepared. With 11 months till the opening ceremonies, it’s indeed a race against time.

Michael Fennell, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, told the Delhi 2010 executive committee in a letter that preparations were so alarmingly behind schedule that the event was at “serious risk” and cautioned that the image of the games was at stake.

Most recently, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) rebuffed the Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) decision to appoint a high-powered technical panel to monitor the progress of the Games every month, saying there are already too many agencies overseeing the preparations with nearly 40 foreign hired experts to support the games preparations. In another move that could incense the CGF, the Organizing Committee (OC) of the 2010 Games recommended the “repatriation” of CGF chief executive officer Mike Hooper, who has been based in Delhi for two years now.

The decisions were taken after CGF president Michael Fennell, in a strongly-worded statement, listed areas of concern and announced the setting up of the review panel that was to start functioning from January. The CGF had identified concerns on 20 functional areas, but now it has come down to five (ticketing, ceremonies, medical, transport, and technology).

While Delhi is trying to make full efforts to prepare for the much anticipated Commonwealth Games, the government needs to ensure construction sites get on schedule quickly. The 2010 Commonwealth Games is India’s chance to shine as the superpower and global giant it affirms to be. All eyes will be on New Delhi one year from now to see if the country can rise to the occasion and win gold.