FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Going Mad in Delhi

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Everyone has an opinion on it, and few seem to be positive. But the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi is on life support and there are many happy to turn off the switch.  In the face of this, New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has specialised in the understatement.  ‘There are some problems’, but they were far from ‘insurmountable’.  The Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna has decided to be hyperbolic, claiming that these games would be ‘one of the most successful’ in the history of the competition (The Economic Times, Sep 23).

A terrorist attack has been cited as a genuine one (aren’t they all, according to the wisdom of the authorities?), but such arguments are standard fare in the modern age of mass sporting spectacles.  To single out India as a special case ignores the obvious fact that an attack might happen on any other equivalent event held in another country.

For all the talk about terrorism, the security threats posed by collapsing foot bridges and roofs seem far more cogent.  Yet the argument of chaos and infrastructural problems is far from a new thing.  Order, good timing and planning are rarely features of such events.  Australia’s famed swimmer Kieran Perkins could still remember the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, when ‘they were still paving the village when we arrived.’  Ditto with Atlanta, where ‘roads were still being laid and venues were still being put together’ (ABC PM, Sep 22).

Searching questions were being asked prior to the Athens Olympic Games over specific organisational issues that threatened to delay, if not banish the Greek effort to oblivion.  Rowers were angered by the inappropriate choice of venue, claiming it was more fit for surfers than serious aficionados of the oar.  Teams went missing for hours, kept on coaches whose drivers could not locate their hotels.  And a Ukrainian archery coach found himself bitten by a stray dog, one of a 60,000 strong population (New York Times, Aug 17, 2003).  This has made the Commonwealth Games England President Dame Kelly Holmes optimistic.  ‘I compare it to the Athens Olympics when they were still planting trees on the day it opened.  I don’t think it can get any worse than that’ (Press Trust of India, Sep 22).

There is little doubt that a crisis, of whatever proportions, is afoot.  Timing is everything, and the sporting representatives who chose to arrive a bit too early found a ‘filthy athlete’s village – where excrement was found in some of the rooms’ (Metro, Sep 23). Good things come to those who wait, though waiting is not something sports personalities or officials do very well.

The authorities have also been blessed by rotten luck, with unseasonable weather from a rather stubborn monsoon producing flooding in the athlete’s village and a potential outbreak of dengue fever.  Stagnant pools in the city are an inviting prospect for industrious mosquitoes.  Athletes will be terrified and running for their various pills and syringes.

Debates have also turned to the issue of relevance.  For one thing, the cost of such an event tends to be astronomical, and certainly far in excess of what can be recouped.  Athens continues to lick its wounds after its Olympic efforts of 2004.  A good argument might well be made for the abolition of such events altogether.  But it should be unsurprising that such a fixture has been shaded by misconceptions and diminishing respect for the ‘Commonwealth’ as such.  Promoters of the Commonwealth cite its diverse membership ‘that has come to encompass every region, religion and race on the planet, something no other organisation apart from the UN can boast’ (The Independent, Nov 26, 2009).  Dissenters point to the Commonwealth as something of a consolation price for Britain’s post-empire blues, a retirement home of diminished colonial expectations.  In time, the home might well be closed, and such contenders for membership as Sudan and Yemen might be left in the political cold.

Should these games commence, they are likely to be a diminished affair, with its bright plumage clipped.  Top athletes, citing concern for their children and families, would sooner be safe than sporty.  We would have seen the best theatre off stage, with its chaos, colour and controversy.  Those who do intend to participate will see their medal prospects dramatically improve with the exit of the more fancied names.  May their efforts be rewarded.

BINOY KAMPMARK was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
Robert Fisk
The Hypocrisies of Terror Talk
Lee Hall
Purloined Platitudes and Bipartisan Bunk: An Adjunct’s View
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of Collective Punishment: Russia, Doping and WADA
Nozomi Hayase
Cryptography as Democratic Weapon Against Demagoguery
Cesar Chelala
The Real Donald Trump
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Propaganda Machinery and State Surveillance of Muslim Children
Denis Conroy
Australia: Election Time Blues for Clones
Marjorie Cohn
Killing With Robots Increases Militarization of Police
David Swanson
RNC War Party, DNC War Makers
Eugene Schulman
The US Role in the Israeli-Palestine Conflict
Nauman Sadiq
Imran Khan’s Faustian Bargain
Peter Breschard
Kaine the Weepy Executioner
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail