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Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony

published  First Published: 14/10/2010
Article written by: Nigel Brookson
Here's something you probably haven't read this past fortnight;
 
The people of Delhi have done a terrific job, and are entitled to be proud.
 
Faced with greater hurdles than Sally Pearson will ever clear, they've pulled it off admirably, and deserve better than the carping, nit-picking that has covered the event.
 
Neither the people of Delhi, nor India as a whole, can be held accountable for the incompetence of organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and his off-sider Lalit Bhanot.
 
They have let their country down, and their failure to meet basic expectations (the ''organising'' bit, for starters) should ensure neither is left in charge of running even the local tandoori chook raffle in future. But is India the only place on the planet where buffoons have found their way to high office?
 
Locals have been left to pick up the pieces, and done so manfully. Constant criticism by media passing off as news a list of ''things that have made my job harder than it is at home'' has hurt them, and they have had enough.
 
''Stop the bellyaching, come out and play,'' one Delhi television station pleaded this week. They had a point.
 
Reciting by rote the A to Z of Delhi disasters is a tiresome sport, particularly when there is light where some have chosen to see only darkness. But why notice the peepal and shisham trees lining Delhi's broad avenues, or the immaculately tended roundabout gardens, when there's a ''Dirty Delhi'' headline to be had on a story about cycling's road racers encountering heat and dust?
 
Cyclists on open roads sweating and breathing dust? Surely not. Why listen to road race bronze medallist Chloe Hosking saying she often rides in 40-degree heat back home, or anything from heat to sleet in Europe, and that ''this is actually quite enjoyable''? Piddling details like this can wait until after the punchline when you're searching for new ways to tell the Delhi 2010 joke.
 
Why entertain the possibility that when men's gold medallist Allan Davis says encountering dogs and a monkey was ''something to remember'', it might actually be a fond memory? When local fauna infiltrates the Tour de France it's seen as a quaint taste of Gallic life. Here, it's a primitive security breach.
 
And why listen to England's Kelly Holmes, a double Olympic gold medallist with experience of elite competition the world over, when she says, ''I've been really surprised with how everything has come together. We have to give you credit. The village is remarkable.''
 
That's not what you want to hear when you're convinced you can crank up a link between the food and Nathan Hauritz's inability to take wickets on fifth-day Indian pitches.
 
The mess that greeted some teams upon arrival was inexcusable, and another knock on the organising committee. But as the wallahs who sweep streets with brooms made of twigs would attest, even the biggest mess can be cleaned.
 
Holmes' take on the competitors' lodgings might have been generous, but on the whole athletes have reported their digs to be basic but adequate. No more or less than they should be when you need only look around the next corner to find families living on top of each other in ramshackle huts.
 
Security has been the major stumbling block to these Games, but the bag searches, pat-downs and scanners have been omnipresent only because many countries wouldn't have come without them. The locals' greatest fear was the abortion of their Games because the Commonwealth shied away from entering the world they inhabit every day. Fortunately not just for visitors, the roadside soldiers with guns protruding from sandbag forts have had a very dull fortnight.
 
Delhiites, who have worked day and night to turn Kalmadi and Bhanot's shambles into a workable, enjoyable Games, have been the real losers.The empty seats that dogged early competition thankfully filled as the Games wore on and organisers finally found a way of getting unused tickets into local hands. The delighted faces of mothers, fathers and their children walking hand-in-hand to the main stadium attested that the real shame of Delhi 2010 is that they weren't part of the party all along.
 
Some believe Delhi has confirmed that these Games' only hope of survival lies in rotation through the Commonwealth's western countries, where the best athletes will happily avail themselves of conditions like home. What a sad ideal.
 
Surely not every athlete whose passport grants entry to the anachronistic Commonwealth Games field needs rockstar treatment to do their thing. Surely enough of them still hanker to see a little of the world they supposedly rule.

 

 

Related Article: Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010

 

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