When India won the bid to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games in 2003, nobody would have imagined that the countdown to the gala event would turn out the way it has.
With just 50 days to go, Delhi, the host city, is strangely bereft of the buzz that should have been part of the run-up to the Games. Officials involved with the preparations say the corruption allegations could not have come at a worse time.
With fresh allegations surfacing almost every day, the morale of the organisers is low and the launch of various Games promotional campaigns has either been cancelled or put-off. "Nobody is coming forward to launch any Games-related event. Officials, even the top brass is wary of signing any file, leave alone taking crucial decisions. At a time when our staff should have been working frantically, they are demoralized," said a senior OC official.
Some crucial projects, like finalizing the catering contract, are yet to be finalized.
To divert the unwanted attention and get Delhiites excited about the event, the OC had planned to launch its "Go for Gold" campaign where it planned to take various Games brand ambassadors like Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Singh and Saina Nehwal around the city.
It was to be launched with on Saturday. Now, the campaign has been deferred indefinitely.
Delhiites were also to get a sneak preview of the Games anthem composed by music maestro A.R. Rahman. The whole campaign, accompanied with a media blitzkrieg, was expected to counter the negative publicity the Games have got over corruption and favouritism charges and delays.
"The controversies have been distracting and have affected our morale," admitted Lalit Bhanot, OC secretary general.
Another plan to create a buzz around the Games — launching the official CWG merchandising — too has been getting delayed for months.
With 50 days to go, shops around the capital should have been displaying Games souvenirs. But the launch has been cancelled four times. Disgusted with the OC's delays, the merchandising company, Premier Brands, pulled out on Friday.
The general mood in the OC is grim. "The morale of not only the staff but even the top brass is low because of fresh corruption allegations surfacing every day," said an official.
With many consultants who were heading key areas leaving and two officials removed from the OC for alleged corruption, there is a vacuum at the top.
"We have written to the centre to give us half-a-dozen senior officials on deputation. But nothing has happened. Nobody wants to be posted here in the present scenario," said another senior OC official.