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The big, fat 14-day-long Delhi party

It’s going to be the biggest party ever hosted by the country. Sample these numbers: 14 days, 8,000 athletes, 22 lakh spectators, 2 billion TV audience worldwide, a Rs 2,000 crore bill and 1,600 officials working round the clock behind the scenes. Avishek G Dastidar and Atul Mathur report. See numbersSee graphic
Hindustan Times | By Avishek G Dastidar and Atul Mathur, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2010 11:31 PM IST

It’s going to be the biggest party ever hosted by the country. Sample these numbers: 14 days, 8,000 athletes, 22 lakh spectators, 2 billion TV audience worldwide, a Rs 2,000 crore bill and 1,600 officials working round the clock behind the scenes. See numbers

When the party kicks off on October 3, the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games hopes to dazzle Delhi and the world with its size and splendour.

The giant logistical support required to put together this fortnight long show is no mean task. Nearly 30,000 volunteers—the highest for any event in India—are being roped in from across the country to help the organisers carry out the plans to the last detail.

And at the hub of this mammoth logistical exercise is the Games Village in East Delhi.

With its 4,004 bedrooms in 1,168 airconditioned flats to house officials and athletes, it has dwarfed all Games Villages in sporting events India has seen.

Suresh Kalmadi, the Organising Committee chairman, says it’s bigger than even the Olympics Games Village in Beijing two years ago. “Our Games Village is the best in the history of the Games. The enormity of operations makes it the biggest,” Kalmadi said at the recently concluded HT Conclave.

While the Village in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games was spread across just 20 hectares, the one in Delhi is thrice its size—63.5 hectares.

All that space is packed with features. During the Games, the 14 blocks and 34 towers of the Village will be bustling with people and activity.

As many as 2,700 meals will be served at a time at the huge dining area which will be functional 24X7.

Officials say, a vast piece of land behind the complex is being used to construct a dining-cum-training area. Facilities like tracks for athletic events, a swimming pool and a fitness centre are being built for the athletes. Their transportation and accreditation will also be handled from the same area.

With its largest solar water heating system, which can heat 85,000 litres of water daily, and solar lighting system in the common areas of each tower and the open areas of the complex, the Games village is coming up as one of the greenest buildings, too. The waste water will be recycled and used for flushing and gardening. See graphic

“Trees have been planted at the Village in such a manner that they’ll bloom in October. The building is just 27 per cent of the entire complex and rest is green,” said major general A.K.Singh, chief operating officer, Emaar MGF, the Dubai-based real-estate giant developing the Village. “We are giving it the finishing touches. Once it’s done, it will be spectacular. The residents will remember it.”

Never before

“The Games is a collection of numerous unprecedented achievements in the history of sports event management in India,” said T.S. Darbari, Joint Director General, Organising Committee.

Nearly 100,000 tourists are expected to arrive during the Games, for who the city is in the process of adding 40,000 rooms through new hotels and extension of existing ones.

In order to ferry around officials and athletes, the organisers will use a fleet of 20,000 cars and also rent buses. “That apart, around 574 airconditioned buses will take care of the transport needs of athletes,” said an official.

The kitchen that never stops cooking

The food at the Games Village will be a feast in itself. For athletes and officials, the Games will serve unlimited fare. In all, around 7 lakh meals will be served during the Games.

The Games Village dining area will serve around 2,700 plates at a time 24X7.

The kitchen will serve continental, Indian and other delicacies for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a supper after dinner, between midnight and 5 a.m. “The dining area will be run in batches throughout the day. We will have to adhere to strict timings to serve different meals otherwise it will be difficult to manage such a huge crowd,” said an official.

Meal vouchers will be required for all persons who do not have dining privileges.

The menu will have a component of staple/fixed items that will be available for each meal period, and an element of main course/special items that will be changed on a daily basis. All residents who have dining privileges indicated on their accreditation will have free access to the main dining area.

An army of 30,000 volunteers

Young men and women, mostly students, are signing up to volunteer their services during the Games. As many as 30,000 volunteers will converge in Delhi from various parts of the country.

They are required in almost all aspects of organising.

And for that, they need training.

Amity university has been chosen as the official trainer for the 30,000 volunteers and the 2,000-strong workforce of the Games.

More than 2,000 students from Amity have been selected by the organisers. Consultants and experts from Europe and the US are being roped in to design the content of the training programme.

1 lakh condoms a day

One lakh condoms will be ready to be given out to athletes and officials who ask for it during the Games at the Village clinic and probably at the reception as well.

That apart, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) will install condom-vending machines at the stadia and other public areas.

“There will be around 8,000 residents at the Village. At a conservative count of one condom per person per day, we need at least 96,000 condoms for the whole 12 days,” said the official who had seen the same practice at Beijing Olympics and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

“In Beijing the condoms flew off the shelves after the first few days. Athletes are used to availing of them after their events.”

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