Kalmadi effect plays out in UK

Recently, I have been experiencing many “flashbacks” as the countdown to the London Olympics 2012 has begun. With exactly one year to go, a giant electric clock at Trafalgar Square has started ticking down to the exact moment.
But the problem is that every time anyone comments something good about the London Olympics I cannot help contrasting it with the glorious mess we showcased to the world during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

I doubt if anyone could do it better. And every time I see or hear the enthusiastic and energetic Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympics Games, I am haunted by the spectre of a sanguine Suresh Kalmadi wandering around assuring everyone that the games would go off without a hitch. Can you blame me if I am beginning to get extremely concerned about the London Olympics?
In fact, so tense am I that I haven’t bought a single ticket and even plan to leave London next year when the event actually takes place. Call it the Kalmadi effect, but now if anyone mentions the fact that there are going to be any kind of mega games I only remember the word “scams”. The thought of the London Olympics looming large only makes me wonder how many people will be behind bars, this time next year, and what scandals are yet to emerge? Surely all the celebrations that begun this week in London are premature and there will be hell to pay when the roof of the aquatic centre falls down and the games village get waterlogged? After all Tony Blair, the then British Prime Minister, won the bid just four years ago. That’s simply not enough time! But no one seems to agree with me, and everyone is busy celebrating the countdown to the Olympics. I worry about them when reality dawns one year later…
The fact that, as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced this week, the games were “on time and on budget” has made me even more nervous. Surely a Kalmadi-type figure is lurking in the wings waiting to hijack the event. Can you blame me for being so edgy? Just look at the controversy that surrounds most game organisations these days — from football to the Commonwealth Games. And so it’s been really a surreal experience to be told that the London Olympics 2012 are on track and doing very well. There was even a public party at Trafalgar Square to kick off the countdown.
With so much singing and dancing and joy I am now learning to hide my scepticism. Because it seems that everything is on schedule — the major venues are ready, giving time for the authorities to check them out thoroughly and the police could also look at issues of security well in advance. A lot of fine-tuning will be possible in the intervening year. Londoners also know that the spotlight will be on them this time next year, and every effort is being made to ensure that everything will go smoothly. Not that the Brits are unused to pulling off major events without a hitch: the royal wedding, for instance, brought in international acclaim not only for its romantic overtones, but also its streamlined efficiency. And that’s what everyone is hoping for in the Olympics as well.
So can one be allowed to feel a sense of relief that there are no stories of corruption (so far) regarding the Olympics? Hmm. Perhaps, because unlike the Beijing or even the Athens Olympics, there isn’t an obvious worry that anything is lagging behind. And, of course, there is none of the panic and pain the world experienced when the Commonwealth Games loomed nigh.
But this is also a feel-good story the beleaguered British Prime Minister has happily embraced as it has so closely followed on the heels of the Rupert Murdoch mess, in which he has been forced onto the backfoot due to his alleged closeness to the media mogul. He has even had to declare every meeting he has ever had with Mr Murdoch and his high-flying staff. It has been an embarrassing time for the British government as well as for the press and the police. For Mr Cameron, therefore, the Olympics offer a moment to celebrate after weeks of bad publicity, and he grabbed it, delightedly. The countdown to the Olympics also came conveniently when the growth figures for the British economy were being announced for this quarter, none of which made pleasant reading.
But genuine appreciation is also due towards the organisers thus far. The president of the International Olympics Committee, Jacques Rogge, also said he was a very happy man and admitted to be being taken aback by the aquatics centre, which has been designed by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, with a signature trademark wavy roof. The London mayor, Boris Johnson, also was ecstatic enough to claim that the aquatics centre was a poem in steel and concrete and the water seemed good enough to drink… This also brought back not so pleasant memories in India when the Commonwealth Games swimming pools were opened and swimmers complained of “Delhi belly”.
Thus, this week when the sun shone on London, the clock ticking on Trafalgar Square has become a symbol of how much a country can achieve if it takes pride in itself and its people. There has been a concerted effort by Lord Coe to ensure that everything goes well and so far it has. Londoners know that next year this time will be a big moment for the city and possibly the ÂŁ9 billion bill for the Olympics will be money well spent. Lord Coe, let us not forget, is a double Olympic gold medallist. Could the efficiency with which the games schedule is being run so far be partly due to the fact that it is being monitored by a sportsperson? Of course, politicians are involved as well, but the involvement of a sportsperson is invaluable. Thus (No offence meant to the hard-working politicians who preside over so many sports bodies in India) is this the time for us to sack the politicians and bring in sportspersons to run games organisations? Or should everyone, like me, suffer permanently from the Kalmadi flashback?

Kishwar Desai can be contacted at kishwardesai@yahoo.com

Post new comment

<form action="/comment/reply/87474" accept-charset="UTF-8" method="post" id="comment-form"> <div><div class="form-item" id="edit-name-wrapper"> <label for="edit-name">Your name: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <input type="text" maxlength="60" name="name" id="edit-name" size="30" value="Reader" class="form-text required" /> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-mail-wrapper"> <label for="edit-mail">E-Mail Address: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <input type="text" maxlength="64" name="mail" id="edit-mail" size="30" value="" class="form-text required" /> <div class="description">The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.</div> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-comment-wrapper"> <label for="edit-comment">Comment: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <textarea cols="60" rows="15" name="comment" id="edit-comment" class="form-textarea resizable required"></textarea> </div> <fieldset class=" collapsible collapsed"><legend>Input format</legend><div class="form-item" id="edit-format-1-wrapper"> <label class="option" for="edit-format-1"><input type="radio" id="edit-format-1" name="format" value="1" class="form-radio" /> Filtered HTML</label> <div class="description"><ul class="tips"><li>Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.</li><li>Allowed HTML tags: &lt;a&gt; &lt;em&gt; &lt;strong&gt; &lt;cite&gt; &lt;code&gt; &lt;ul&gt; &lt;ol&gt; &lt;li&gt; &lt;dl&gt; &lt;dt&gt; &lt;dd&gt;</li><li>Lines and paragraphs break automatically.</li></ul></div> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-format-2-wrapper"> <label class="option" for="edit-format-2"><input type="radio" id="edit-format-2" name="format" value="2" checked="checked" class="form-radio" /> Full HTML</label> <div class="description"><ul class="tips"><li>Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.</li><li>Lines and paragraphs break automatically.</li></ul></div> </div> </fieldset> <input type="hidden" name="form_build_id" id="form-3e4b631453e1327dee81c23f2cd58bac" value="form-3e4b631453e1327dee81c23f2cd58bac" /> <input type="hidden" name="form_id" id="edit-comment-form" value="comment_form" /> <fieldset class="captcha"><legend>CAPTCHA</legend><div class="description">This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.</div><input type="hidden" name="captcha_sid" id="edit-captcha-sid" value="81179943" /> <input type="hidden" name="captcha_response" id="edit-captcha-response" value="NLPCaptcha" /> <div class="form-item"> <div id="nlpcaptcha_ajax_api_container"><script type="text/javascript"> var NLPOptions = {key:'c4823cf77a2526b0fba265e2af75c1b5'};</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://call.nlpcaptcha.in/js/captcha.js" ></script></div> </div> </fieldset> <span class="btn-left"><span class="btn-right"><input type="submit" name="op" id="edit-submit" value="Save" class="form-submit" /></span></span> </div></form>

No Articles Found

No Articles Found

No Articles Found

I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.