The 2010 Commonwealth Games may turn into a hyper-expensive Indian track meet. The games were supposed to be India's opportunity to showcase the country as a modern, emerging economic superpower but the image that is being presented is not quite what the organizers hoped for.
We, in North America, didn't hear much about it but the Delhi games have turned into a world-class boondoggle. Originally budgeted for 6.5-billion rupees the games are now scheduled to cost 115-billion which is a 98-billion rupee overrun. When the overrun is itself 14-times the entire original budget you can pretty much assume a lot of corruption in the works.
For that kind of money, however, you would expect world class facilities. So far, no. Yesterday a pedestrian overpass built to link the athlete's village to the venues collapsed. Not exactly a confidence builder. And then there's the village itself. Representatives of several Commonwealth nations have slammed the buildings as incomplete, dirty and unfit for human habitation. That last one is the kicker. Indian organizers have two days to rectify problems some observers claim would take at least two weeks. The problems are bad enough that some teams are theatening to stay home while others are delaying travel plans for their athletes until they see if the Indian organizers can pull a rabbit out of their... well, you know.
And, of course, there's been a devastating monsoon deluge and a spike in terrorist attacks to weigh on visiting athletes' minds. Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser advises her compatriots to consider
boycotting the event as she fears the security situation could turn the Games into "another Munich", referring to the 1972 Olympic attacks in which 11 Israelis were taken hostage and subsequently killed by Palestinian gunmen. Three time Olympic champion Usain Bolt is giving the Delhi games a pass. So is four Olympic gold medalist cyclist Chris Hoy.
Canada, Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand are balking at participating in the games that begin on October 3rd.
Imagine a country where less than a third of its people have access to a basic toilet squandering 98-billion rupees on 'overruns.' It truly is mind-boggling.