The Commonwealth Games 2010 is still a long way off the starting block. But the Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi is the undisputed winner of the controversy prize. In a recent broadside against the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) CEO, Mike Hooper, Mr Kalmadi described the former as useless and an impediment to the committee’s functioning. Tempers have been running high over allegations that the Games are running behind schedule. But to suggest, as an Indian Olympic Association board member has done, that criticism of the preparations smacks of imperialism will do nothing to enhance India’s image.
That the president of the CGF, Mike Fennell, has come out in support of Mr Hooper further diminishes the credibility of Mr Kalmadi and his supporters. It is inexplicable that Mr Kalmadi should want to open a can of worms by demanding Mr Hooper’s expulsion at this late stage with officials raking up how much Mr Hooper is costing the committee to buttress their claims. India has already received a considerable amount of negative publicity both within the country and outside on the slow progress of preparations for the Games. This is the time to hunker down and get things moving as fast and smoothly as possible with the minimum distraction. The latest controversy has only focused more attention on the Games and the many lacunae in its completion so far. Differences among the many organisers should be sorted out in private and not aired in public. Though comparisons are odious, we ought to have learnt a lesson from the Chinese whose planning and execution of a mega event like the Olympics went off as smooth as silk.
From the word go, the Commonwealth Games 2010 has been mired in misunderstandings and controversies. Even if these disputes are resolved and the Games go off well, there will be a lack of confidence in India’s ability to host such events in future. The public would be happier with a regular update on the progress of the infrastructure for the Games than be subjected to such mudslinging. The attack on Mr Hooper conveys the impression, whether rightly or wrongly, that Mr Kalmadi is looking for a scapegoat. This is hardly an advertisement for a country that claims that it is up there with the best of them in any arena. Clearly, it is time to show a little more sporting spirit if we are to get the Games off the ground without further hitches.