Commonwealth Games, India Shindig

So India Shining is about to host the Indian Shindig, the Commonwealth Games. This was supposed to show off India in the same way the much-larger Olympics showed off China.

The games open in ten days and twelve hours. The other day a pedestrian bridge collapsed while still being built. (Will concrete cure in ten days?) and yesterday part of a venue’s roof collapsed.

Some teams are refusing to send their teams. They call the village for the athletes unacceptable. Human excrement in the rooms, construction dust everywhere. Wd can only pray there is no terrorism.

So will the games be a disaster or simply an embarrassment? Only time will tell.

Well, I only know of this from its being covered on the BBC in America news broadcast, on my local public radio station (WNYC). It’s been in that program for the past two days at least.

It sounds like an intractable situation for the athletes. Today’s coverage suggested a two-tiered response from them, in which the marginal athletes (for whom the Commonwealth Games will probably be as good as it gets) will more likely attend for the joy of competing and the exotic experience, while the top-seeded, Olympic-aspiring elites will quite likely give it a pass, because they don’t want their training schedules and health sidelined by a likely bout of dengue fever.

There is a standard newsmedia trope that involves the media wetting its pants with schadenfreude at the prospect that a sports spectacle will be a failure. It happens prior to every Olympic Games, World Cup (soccer, cricket, rugby, whatever) and every Commonwealth Games. It happened prior to the Sydney Olympics and the Beijing Olympics, which were spectacular successes. Of course, sometimes it does all go pearshaped - IIRC, a Rugby World Cup that was to be held in New Zealand had to be moved.

The media theme in the country where the games are to be held is all neurotic anxiety and shrill cries of hubris and “we’ve bitten off more than we can chew!” The theme in the countries who are to attend the Games is “those goldang furriners cain’t do nothin’ right.”

That said, it’s usually generated by talking heads speaking generally about delays and transport problems. In the case of Delhi, there would appear to have been more serious issues (particularly the structural collapses), but the bandwagon effect kicks in once there is any problem at all, and things that are just normal, inevitable SNAFUs get dragged out of the background noise where they deserve to be and used to amplify the pantswetting. The accommodation is not yet ready for the athletes to move in, but then as I understand it, they are not due for some time yet, and the people complaining are the advance scouts.

I think the games will be a success, absent a terrorism atrocity a la Munich. And if that happens, we won’t be focussing on little things like plumbing complaints.

Well, I’ve seen some pictures on the BBC cite and the accomodations do not look good. Also, people from the organising committee saying that some of the western partispants (UK home countries, Canada, New Zealand, Australia) might have a different standard of cleanliness than Indian people, doesn’t bode well.

Many countries have delayed traveling to india and some atlethes have already made clear they’re not going…I’m really curious to see how the next couple of days will play out.

Footage of the interior of the housing now coming in on BBC-World, paw prints on brand new beds. It looks bad.

Have they blamed ISI and the Pakistan Government yet?

…I don’t really think you are being fair here. Yeah, in the lead-up to major events there are always moans, gripes and niggles: but what has happened here is extraordinary. This is not normal. Advance parties are sent for a reason: to make sure that things are right on the ground. Our team was supposed to start arriving tomorrow (not, as you state, “in some time”): now they are holding up in various hotels around the world waiting to see if the games are going to go ahead.

Dave Currie (quoted above) is the New Zealand Chef de Mission, veteran of many Olympic and Commonwealth games campaigns, and it not prone to exaggeration. Among the many problems discovered was that construction workers had used the accommodation toilets prior to the plumbing being connected: so the toilets are literally full of shit. The original accommodation complex allocated to the New Zealand team has been declared unlivable and wouldn’t be ready for at least two weeks: the team has been moved to another complex, but as cited the toilets don’t work, wires are exposed, the roof is leaking, phones and the internet aren’t connected and who knows if there is a fire if the alarms would go off. The New Zealand team has had to hire there own industrial cleaners to try and get the accommodation ready: and the cleaners they have hired will struggle to finish in time.

Add to this the obvious security concerns and the collapse of the bridge a few days ago injuring several: it is obvious that these are no ordinary pre-games jitters. Don’t blame the media for this unless you can prove that aspects of this story have been exaggerated: the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Indian Organizing Committee.

If those are new sinks and fixtures they installed, how did they get so filthy? Those look horrible! Different standards of cleanliness my foot!


A lot of the mess seems to be paan spit.

How disgusting and low-class. Well. India is shining here, isn’t it.

Pear-shaped? This has the makings of a whole fucking orchard!

It is perhaps a sign of the seriousness of the problems that so many of the games’ own press releases concern hygiene. This one describes the central kitchen, and it seems almost desperate to convey that they are clean.

Also, and this may just be a difference in cultural idiom, but if cleanliness and security are at issue, I wouldn’t run with the headline, “Hooker Oozes Confidence.”

Headline of the year. There is no way to know if they meant it to attract attention or not.

The BBC America radio news broadcast on NPR this morning led off with the Commonwealth preparations story – which ran for twenty minutes! They had a lengthy interview with a high-ranking Indian gov. minister who came off as quite an idiot, all blithe disregard (for the various team reps’ concerns) and delusional optimism. If you’re wondering how to assign blame for this disaster-in-the-making, he’d probably be a good place to start.

BTW, recent developments include the collapse of a footbridge (severely injuring four construction workers) and the collapse of an internal false ceiling in one of the communal facilities (as opposed to an athlete’s apartment). Also, malaria and dengue fever are reported as becoming worrying widespread in Delhi, thanks to the monsoon rains and floods, with the Commonwealth Games area being riddled with standing water and infested with mosquitos.

These aren’t cosmetic concerns, but basic health & safety issues.

Edit: link to the BBC World Service news broadcast for the morning of Sept. 23, which I heard on my local NPR station. (It’s not BBC America but BBC World Service, argh.)

Link to the podcast from WNYC

Picture #4 “Outside, some of the walkways around the complex look potentially dangerous.” It is a picture of a sidewalk that is no longer a sidewalk, but a deep hole LOL

Moved MPSIMS --> The Game Room (via a brief detour to Cafe Society – effin’ dropdowns).

It’s a dangerous world out there.

You simulposted with Banquet Bear - basically workers started using the toilets before any of the plumbing was connected so human waste is just… um, well I guess everywhere.

The photos on BBC’s website were pretty bad. The “potentially dangerous” walkways that ZipperJJ mentioned are particularly troubling. Construction is being hampered by monsoon rains. Look at the pics of how water-logged some of the athletes’ village is, and then remind yourself that they are rushing to put in roads and bridges on super-soggy soil, with the Yamura River still rising. I would be really concerned about the safety of athletes. ETA: Eeesh. 45 workers have died since work began on the Games.

Indian media is reporting only 18 of 34 towers for the athletes’ village are complete and Shivaji Stadium is just not going to be ready. Period.

This is one of the few excuses that hasn’t been trotted out yet. Don’t give the organisers any ideas though…

And a sign of the economic status and home living conditions of the kitchen workers, that they have to be provided a place to bathe when they come in to work, and clean, sanitized clothing given to them after their baths.