The Commonwealth Games are running quIte well and India has avoided serious humiliation, although there's been a steady stream of embarrassments.
Suresh Kalmadi, head of the organising committee, was roundly booed as he made his welcoming speech, and deservedly so. Cracks appeared in the running tracks. Australian athletes, the first to enter the stadium in the opening ceremony, were "treated like cattle" as they waited an hour in a stifling tunnel. Earlier, some venues were unfinished, a footbridge collapsed and rooms for athletes uninhabitable. There were bird droppings in the swimming pool. The scales used to weigh boxers were seriously inaccurate. The disqualification of the initial winner of the women's 100 metres may have been technically correct in the end but the handling of it was a disgrace. A large electronic scoreboard collapsed and was ruined when its mountings failed.
And so on, and on, and on.
Yet some athletes—diver Matthew Mitcham for instance—report that the facilities are fine are they having an enjoyable experience.
As always, some of the sporting achievements are superb. But few are there to witness them and the stands are almost empty. All in all it's a big yawn. All the more so as Australian dominance is so strong. Of the 206 events decided by early Tuesday, Australians (not Australia) had won 31%. The Indians and the English had each won about 15%.
The Economist mentions a letter also on the front page of the Times of India in which Azim Premji, head of Wipro, one of India's largest software firms, put the true cost of the games at $6 billion (way over budget) and asked: "Is this drain on public funds for the greater common good?" The Economist comments that India has not provided a convincing answer to that question.
We run them well, yet it's not for us in Australia to criticise India's priorities when we too spend huge sums on beer-and-circus public events like Olympic and Commonwealth Games, and Formula One motor races. But it's fair to be critical of corruption and waste.
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