Two days ago, an exclusive Hindustan Times report (‘It happens only in India’) blew the lid off the organising committee's claims that Ranchi was ready to host the 34th National Games next month.
Even after detailed photographs were published, showing that only one of three main indoor halls was complete, the main athletics stadium which was to stage the opening and closing ceremonies was months from completion, the synthetic track was yet to be laid and the swimming pool still needed tiles (forget the equipment being tested), the local organisers insisted they would be held from February 15 to 28.
But the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) obviously did not want to be embarrassed and on Saturday, they announced that the Games have been postponed, again.
The mega sporting event will now be held from June 1 to 14. "We have postponed the Games because the venues weren't ready," said IOA secretary general Randhir Singh. "It's a prestigious event and we don't want to take any chances."
Even to organise the Games in February, the Chairman of the Games Conducting Committee (GCC), S.N. Bali, had asked some of the national federations to cut short their schedule by a day.
"Now as the Games have been postponed we can hold all the events in the proposed venues. And there will be no need to reduce a day from the schedule of various sports as the Games will be held in June," said Bali. He also said that while some of the technical equipment had been tested, the rest would be discussed at a meeting on February 5.
"All the infrastructure will be totally ready by June. And it will definitely be the best ever staged National Games," said S.M. Hashmi, secretary general of the Jharkhand Olympic Association. "The political instability in the state also pushed us to seek another extension.”
Well, Hashmi's statements on the day are markedly different from what he said to HT on Friday, when he claimed all was well.
It would also be difficult to take anything the organisers say at face value, given that these Games were allotted officially in October-November 2003, a year after Jharkhand knew they'd be getting the games. Next on the agenda really, for the IOA, should be to run a check on how the hundreds of crores earmarked for infrastructure, have been spent.