Has the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) built a R25 crore archery stadium that was never needed?
The Archery Association of India’s (AAI) answer is an emphatic yes. “It’s a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and went through only because of the corruption in the system,” AAI secretary general Paresh Nath Mukherjee told HT.
He said the AAI did not want a new stadium to be built. “The AAI felt it would a huge waste of money. Existing greens with temporary spectator stands would have been good enough,” Mukherjee said.
The AAI’s opinion, initially put forward in 2009, was not accepted by the OC and Delhi Development Authority. The new stadium was built despite the fact that originally, only the preliminary rounds were to be conducted on its premises. The finals were to be held at India Gate, which the OC called an ‘iconic venue’. The Delhi Police, however, put paid to that plan, denying permission.
“Nowhere in the world is a venue built just to host the prelims of an event. Not for the Olympic Games, or any other competition,” said Mukherjee.
Mukherjee blamed the firm Event Knowledge Services (EKS) for the stadium’s construction. EKS, hired by the OC, is under a cloud after allegations surfaced that its owner, has a conflict of interest, since he is also member of the Games Coordination Committee.
OC secretary general Lalit Bhanot refuted this, saying: “The archery stadium was built on the recommendation of the archery world body FITA.”
“If we have to conduct a world-class event, we need top quality venues,” Bhanot added.
Typically, in archery, temporary venues are used, even in events like the Olympics, because such stadia can’t be used for other purposes. Archery events take place very infrequently, and the “legacy value” would be minimal.
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, for example, the archery venue was a part of the Olympic Greens, and was a temporary venue that later became part of the post-Games recreation centre. The venue had a capacity of 5,348 and successful hosted events.
“There is very little difference between construction of a temporary and a permanent structure in terms of costs,” Bhanot said. “There’s just a 20 percent difference. We wanted this to be an archery venue as a legacy of the Games so we have erected this structure.”
The Yamuna Sports Complex archery stadium is owned by the Delhi Development Authority, who commissioned the project to Construction Catalysers Pvt Ltd.
The venue can seat 1,500 spectators and is meant to hold similar events in the future.