Just two years ago there were glittering Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Jawahar Lai Nehru Stadium in Delhi, India. Despite low attendances, dirty bathrooms, wild monkeys, dogs and snakes, the Games went on.
Today the top six executives are in jail for corruption and other crimes. The XIX Commonwealth Games, the third biggest multi-sport international competition after The Summer Olympics and The Asian Games, have little to show in the way of legacy. 6,081 competitors from 71 countries and 21 sports. The Australian company that put on those ceremonies have yet to be paid, and the same goes for the Aussie construction companies. Started in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario the games are held between Summer Olympics. The next will be in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.
The very first international tournament that I visited was the British Empire & Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales(the old name) in 1958 while I was at school, two years before my first Olympics in Rome, Italy 1960.
Go and visit Delhi today and the main stadium with 60,000 seats, and the largest indoor arena, Indira Gandhi Stadium, 25,000 seats, are padlocked, with cracking concrete, peeling paint and rubbish everywhere. Many of the apartments built to house the athletes are empty and unsold. Delhi has a climate that ranges from 5c to 45c and sports would rather compete and have their training centres in Bangalore and elsewhere.
Go to Beijing, site of the 2008 Summer Olympics and the famous Birds Nest Stadium is hardly ever used for events. Visitors pay to enter and sit in and walk around, but thats about all. WHAT LEGACY? In 1976 I flew with 4 companions from Dusseldorf to Montreal on Air Canada. At the airport we were beseiged by locals with signs offering accommodation. They were desperate because the expected flood of tourists never materialised. We were taken along the river to a private catholic boarding school. The gymnasium had over 100 beds and apart from us the rest were empty.
It was a real bargain, about $10 a night including breakfast, and with a nearby suburban rail station, the city and Olympic sites were 20 minutes away. Plenty of available tickets for athletics, football, hockey, boxing and more. It took over THIRTY YEARS for the local tax payers to fund the games deficit.
So, after the excitement and the medals and the Closing Ceremony on Sunday in Stratford, East London, will there be a sustainable legacy? The poor, impoverished, unemployed residents are expecting work, a decent income, cheap housing and a nice place to live and bring up a family. The very LAST THING THEY NEED is a 100 million pound cycle Velodrome so that they can rush out to a sports shop and purchase a 20,000 pound carbon compund lightweight bicycle and then the expensive custom helmets, lycra uniforms and special shoes.
The Queen and James Bond are not expected to appear for an ENCORE at the close. I am hoping that the sad trial in Moscow, which wrapped up today, of THE PUSSY RIOT three girl punk rock group will collapse, and that they will fly in and bring the curtain down. Instead of HEY JUDE.... HEY PUTIN... maybe?????