Kolkata: Bhaichung Bhutia became the first active Indian sportsperson to say New Delhi’s hosting the Commonwealth Games wasn’t a good idea. But now that it is upon us, everyone should support it, he said.
“I think it was a completely wrong decision to bid for the Games. I don’t think enough thought went behind it,” said the India football captain and Padmashree here on Wednesday.
“Yes, we have the fancy airport and fancy roads needed to host it but look at the infrastructure we have for any sport.” Kolkata has one artificial turf for hockey and one synthetic running track and that too isn’t exactly shipshape, Bhutia said.
“I feel sad that the Indian government doesn’t do anything to build sports infrastructure but spends so much money to host this (the Commonwealth Games)…Let’s give youngsters the opportunity to play sport, any sport; let’s train coaches first… We are not ready to host such events yet.”
And that wasn’t all. “I have played a few Durand Cups (the world’s third oldest football tournament, which is held in New Delhi) and apart from the Ambedkar Stadium, there is no training facility available. We have trained in parks,” said Bhutia, at a media conference organised by the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club.
Bhutia, 31, also said he hoped the opening and closing ceremonies don’t get overrun by Hindi film stars making them look like “Filmfare or IIFA awards.” I know the popularity of Bollywood but I would rather the Games showcase India’s rich and varied culture, he said.
Having opted out of the Olympic Torch Run in 2008 because he didn’t support China’s stand on Tibet, Bhutia was asked why he didn’t stay away from the Queen’s Baton Relay when it reached here on Sunday.
“That’s because, since India will host the Games anyway, I want it to be a success. My being there was to show support.”
And that was the only time the Indian football icon didn’t sound like former sports minister and 69-year-old Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar.