Wednesday, May 22nd

Last update12:59:40 PM GMT

Commonwealth Games 2010 - The Shady Side

Write e-mail

The Commonwealth Games XIX, did bring glory to the Indian Nation in terms of the medals (a charming figure of 38-27-36 ;)) and the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies, but not before a lot of controversy had already plagued and even threatened the happening of the event.


Again, let me put the bare facts in front of you and let you decide whether the CWG 2010 were a shame, a scam or it doesn't really matter since India came on top at the end.

Events before the Games

Some events which took place prior to the games

  • Most sporting venues, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (track and field) and the swimming complex were not ready by their respective deadlines.
  • At the table tennis facility, a false ceiling collapsed.
  • At the weightlifting site, new vinyl flooring started to peel before the games even started.
  • The brand new shooting range, inaugurated in May, saw its embankments collapse.
  • Trial weightlifting and swimming events had to be canceled, because the sites were not ready.
  • The swimming stadium, inaugurated a few days before the event, got flooded.
  • There were also reports of water seepage in the boxing stadium.
  • The bidding process for catering was canceled right before the event. It was later hurried through (implying higher costs and less choice!)
  • Subways at Connaught Place could not be finished on time, and were boarded up.
  • Not even a third of the 34 towers ITDC had to furnish in the Games Village were complete on time. The excuse given was “inadequate labour force”.
  • Gunmen on a motorcycle, shot 2 Taiwanese tourists near Jama Masjid in a possible terror attack just 2 weeks before the games!
  • A footbridge attached to on one of the entrances of the JN Stadium, collapsed.
  • Incessant rainfall, fear of a dengue fever epidemic, delayed construction work, overwhelmed area hospitals were not helping Delhi's cause at all.
  • To top this, top athletes like Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Usain Bolt withdrew from the games.

And our very own Mr. Lalit Bhanot, the Secretary General of the organizing committee was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “some false ceiling has fallen down, which means nothing,” and “these things happen even at your house.”!

Huge Cost Overruns, Dismal Sponsorships

Reports suggest that the cost of sports infrastructure went up by a factor of more than 20x. The reports of treadmills being hired for nearly Rs. 10 lac in taxpayer money is already popular. The original estimate for the infrastructure cost was around Rs 1,900 crores. It was later revised to Rs 10,000 crores. Latest estimates before the games suggested that the costs exceeded Rs 30,000 crores! 

Many sponsors, who the government expected will help recover the money spent, left the games and only a handful of large consumer brands signed up, including Coca-Cola, Reebok and Hero Honda.

Government “urged” public sector units to shell out money for sponsorship and even asked them to classify these expenses under their CSR investments! The Indian Railways, NTPC and Air India were among the only large sponsors that made commitments.

An RTI application found that about Rs 265 crores from the ‘Scheduled Caste Sub Plan’ for Delhi, was used to pay for the CWG.

Events after the Games's completion/Corruption charges

  • Indian police raided 11 locations in connection with alleged financial malpractices at the Commonwealth Games.
  • Searches have taken place at the homes of organising committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot and director general VK Verma. Both men have denied any wrongdoing. 
  • Three Games officials were arrested on corruption charges within days of the closing ceremony. 
  • Games organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi resigned from the Congress party. He has been under investigation over claims of corruption and also denies any wrongdoing.
  • Mr Verma told the AFP news agency that he was innocent and had acted with "due diligence" while awarding contracts in connection with the Games.
  • The budget for the event - held in Delhi - ballooned to an estimated $6bn (~Rs 270 bn) - with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) receiving complaints alleging up to $1.8bn (~Rs 80 bn) of Games money was misappropriated.
  • A CVC report into the Games said that poor quality materials were used and there were massive cost overruns on construction projects.
  • Senior Games officials TS Darbari and Sanjay Mohindroo were arrested over charges of irregularities over the awarding of Games contracts linked to the Queen's Baton Relay in London last year.
  • Treasurer M Jayachandran was arrested in connection with an alleged scam to award contracts to companies at inflated prices.
  • His predecessor, Anil Khanna, quit in August after claims that an Australian firm won the contract to lay tennis courts for the Games because his son headed its Indian arm.

Anti view

While nobody will officially say this, we all know the reson why costs bloated and stadiums collapsed. Officials and political patrons made money on bribes from contractors, who won bids at the “lowest” price and then earned super profits by compromising on quality. Then they made more money citing over-runs and repairs. Material suppliers hoarded construction materials and made a killing as the games desperately raced to the deadline.

With one-third of our population living below the poverty line, and a majority of kids are malnourished, uneducated and lack access to healthcare – this sort of expenditure was not only shameful, but criminal. The money could and should have been spent well on so many other causes.

Neutral view

We believe there can be no pro view for such an event as the CWG 2010. The kind of money laundering, corruption and inefficiency which marred the event does in no way call for applause. However, the organization of such an event was also necessary for India to show that it is not just an emerging power on paper. The success of the games did raise eyebrows, but at the same time brought to light India's growth story as well.

Corruption in events of such a magnificent scale cannot be practically avoided (and I'm not just talking about India). But the scale to which this happened in India was truly shameful and the wrongdoers need to be brought to book. Along with showing the world what India is truly capable of delivering, the country should also look after its poor and grow not just with events like these, but also become (atleast strive) a corruption free, safe and clean country growing with its masses.


Share this post

Add comment

Please refrain from using slang or abusive language in the comments.
To avoid waiting for your comment to be published after being reviewed, please log in as a registered user.

Security code

Get Set Resumes - Resume Writing and Interview Coaching

Web Hosting