THE MINISTRY of Youth Affairs and Sports has set up a new International Sports Division, to be headed by a joint secretary, that will, in effect, coordinate how the Commonwealth Games are organised in Delhi in 2010.
The formation of this division, though presented as an administrative exercise, is being seen as a clear indicator of the ministry's desire to exercise control over the organisation of the Games, especially finances.
Logically, this division seems to be a practical arm of the Apex Committee for the Games that Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar recently reconstituted. Aiyar, who, in the past, has expressed his unhappiness with the huge amounts of money allocated to the Games, the working of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and its control over the Organising Committee, Commonwealth Games 2010 (OCCG), has already asked all agencies to seek the approval of the Apex Committee before executing any project.
Sports Secretary Madhukar Gupta told HT: "The division was set up because the scope of sport has increased and the preparations for the Games have created additional workload. The government has to create infrastructure and liaise with various agencies to organise the Games.
The division will also coordinate with the DDA, the Organising Committee, the Delhi government, etc. There will be matters like tourism, accommodation, transport to be dealt with."
Asked what the scope of the high-profile OCCG, headed by IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi, would then be, Gupta replied: "The conduct and functioning of the Games will be squarely within the realm of the OCCG. The division will coordinate the rest." Gupta said the sports division would deal with all budgets.
He added: "Now, as is usual when the government gives a grant, questions will be asked about the allocation of funds, whether they are being utilised properly and so on.”
At the moment, all parties involved say they will work as "one family". IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh told HT that his understanding of the new division was a one-stop place to seek permission to send teams internationally, process files etc. The ministry obviously sees things somewhat differently. And as 2010 comes closer, a battle for control of the Games seems inevitable.