Commonwealth Games running out of goodwill

A worker wheels away mud from the tracks at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Image: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)

By Ray Philp

A catalogue of PR gaffes and logistical crises continue to affect the reputation of the Commonwealth Games. Organisers in Delhi have completed preparations for the running track only hours before athletes were due to take part in the Games’ first running event.

Concern for the viability of the Games have increased after a series of damning revelations were published including the collapse of a footbridge and an athlete’s village deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’ by the Scotland team.  There are also a myriad of safety concerns prompting many competing teams, including Scotland, to threaten to pull out of the event.

Attendances remain poor on the third day of the Games, and today Chief Organiser Suresh Kalmadi is seeking to assuage concerns: “We sold 50,000 tickets yesterday and have got good response for hockey, tennis, swimming and athletics.”

Significant transport issues have been highlighted by a leaked internal report published by the Indian Express. The report indicates that some bus drivers were demonstrably unfamiliar with routes to Games venues, taking up to 3 hours to travel to venues that would normally take 30 minutes to reach, with some drivers not reaching their destinations at all. Drivers have also threatened to stage walkouts, citing ‘poor catering and depot facilities’.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell acknowledged the issues: “it has been a big complaint that some drivers are not familiar with the roads and people are spending a lot of time in cars and the athletes complained about difficulty to get to the competition venues.” Kalmadi added that “the last issue [transport] would be addressed tomorrow.”

Robbie Renwick collected Scotland’s first gold medal of the Games in the 200m freestyle yesterday, while shooters Jen McIntosh and Kay Copland settled for bronze after missing out on silver by one point in the 50m 3P Pairs. David Carry had claimed Scotland’s first medal on Tuesday, emerging with bronze in the 400m freestyle.