Guests and staff walk outside the Globe bar in the Olympic Village built for the London 2012 Olympic Games in Stratford, east London. The Globe will be a dry bar for the duration of the games. The village will accomodate up to 16,000 athletes and officials from more than 200 nations. Reuters/Olivia Harris
India wanted to arrive as an economic and sporting powerhouse by hosting the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi in 2010.
Whether the country achieved that is debatable. But what the CWG has done is raise accommodation standards so high that just meeting International Olympic Committee (IOC) specifications at the London Olympic Games Village doesn’t satisfy anymore. Maybe that is why the Indian archery team thinks its lodgings in London could have been better.
Pareshnath Mukherjee, the Archery Association of India general secretary and manager of the squad at the London Games, spoke about that on Monday, the day after the Tri-colour was hoisted at the Village.
“If the accommodation at the Commonwealth Games was five-star, on that scale the accommodation here at the Games Village is not even two-star,” said Mukherjee, who checked into the Village with the squad on July 16, the day it was opened.
“With the equipment and everything else kept at one side, there is hardly space to move. The rooms are very cramped,” Mukherjee told HT from London.
“The Village here is absolutely spick and span. But in hindsight, the accommodation at the Commonwealth Games was so much better and even then, we were criticised.”
PK Muralidharan Raja, India’s deputy chef de mission, however, offered a different take. “Mukherjee’s views are to some extent personal. I am also staying at the same place. There are a few specifications laid down by the Olympic Council and the Village is according to those specifications. I can assure you that the athletes are happy,” Raja told HT.
“Yes, the CWG facilities were very luxurious and sprawling. Even athletes who had come to the Guangzhou Asian Games after the CWG told us they missed the CWG Village. Actually, there is no end to how luxurious you can make accommodations. But no one’s cribbing here,” he added. The Olympic Village situated in East London near River Lea with an area of 0.36 sq km has residential apartments for around 17,000 athletes and officials, along with shops, restaurants, medical, media and leisure facilities.
Jayanta Talukdar was a touch disappointed that he and the rest of the squad will miss the opening ceremony on Friday because the team championships start on Saturday. But the fact that archery will be held at the Lord’s gives him a different kick.
The men’s team had missed the Village flag-hoisting ceremony on Sunday as well as they had a practice session scheduled. The women’s team was present.
“We have been training at the Lord’s nursery ground and did get a peek of the cricket ground where galleries are being set up for the elimination rounds. It’s fantastic. I don’t know much about cricket and haven’t been to a cricket match back home, but somehow I felt a little different standing there,” Talukdar told HT.
“Even on the ground where we are training, the grass feels like velvet. I heard that county matches are sometimes held here,” he said. On Saturday, when archers get their first feel of the main ground during the men’s team championships, shooting, not bowling, will happen from the Pavilion End.
Bout of fever
Most of the archers were recovering from fever but none has missed training so far. “We were training in very hot and humid conditions in Kolkata and here the temperature is only around 20°.
It’s like winter back home. Also, the weather changes from sunny to being nippy suddenly. Some of our archers have caught a cold and have mild fever. It’s nothing to worry about,” said Mukherjee.