Express Criticism against Authorities, Not Athletes: CWG 2010

Many of you may remember that some 45 days ago I called for non cooperation with the commonwealth games. The idea was catalyzed by chetan bhagat’s article aptly titled – please don’t cheer the loot fest. Finally a facebook group grew to about 500 people and some discussions happened. Alternatively I heard about some voices of dissent trying to oppose the opening ceremony . Finally when the man behind the mess , Mr Kalmadi took centrestage he was clearly greeted with more “jeers than cheers” ( to borrow headlines from popular media). A palpable demonstration of the discontent that prevails.
I was looking frantically for a method to watch the live steaming of the opening ceremony and beyond (through twitter), a friend asked – ‘I thought you were boycotting the games’. I recommended another friend in Delhi to watch aquatic events for the venue looks spectacular on TV. He told me, ‘I am protesting by not turning up for any of the events’

This is where I feel we have got it all wrong. Who is our wrath against? The thousands of athletes who compete for top honours. The thousands of volunteers who are working 16-18 hr days. The workers who put together the venues, village and made things happen. I would urge that none of these groups should be the victim of our wrath. For these unsung heroes are not a part of the ‘loot fest’, which we are and shall continue to be against.

By not turning up at the venues, we are not protesting against the ‘loot fest’, but against sportsmanship. We are demonstrating that we do not care about the ‘core’ of the games – whether that core is to showcase top quality sporting action, or signal an emergent cultural and economic superpower. We are sending wrong signals to the world about our apathy for Olympic sport.

I urge friends and countrymen to not extend the opposition of a ‘loot fest’ to showing up and cheering the sport. Perhaps wear black bands at the venues to demonstrate that you haven’t forgotten that the guilty still need to be taken to task!


Author: harshT

Assistant Professor

5 thoughts on “Express Criticism against Authorities, Not Athletes: CWG 2010”

  1. Dont want to air views openly as it is a tricky issue that I am not fully aware of but when I read Chetan’s article I knew it was on shaky grounds (and thus also your call to follow Chetan) for opposing CWG involves opposing each and every entity associated with CWG. While both sides of it are true (abt rejecting lootfest and supporting athletes), how do you decide when your money goes to atheletes and not the lootfest ? If you attend games, the money would eventually have to go into the pockets of authorities who organised the games. If you want to encourage athletes and reject lootfest, perhaps a more distinctive way might be by conferring awards to performing/participating players (so that they are not found catching autos) and asking for a probe/audit of CWG expenses billed by contractors/organisers esp in the weeks leading upto CWG. Perhaps attending events that are free (yes there are few which happen early in the morning) would be another way. Attending opening/closing ceremonies is not an encouragement of athletes per se.

    1. Subodh, while Mr Bhagat may have provided the catalysis for my call to boycott – my idea was never against not ‘watching’ the games.
      I would not be very concerned about the tickets money at this stage as that is a very very small percentage of the outlay. It was obvious that no one could stop the games at the stage Mr Bhagat’s article came. What appealed to me through the non cooperation call was that a citizen group should strive to generate awareness about the mismanagement and misappropriation of public resources. Else it all gets lost in in the rhetoric of how spectacular the show was and all well that ends well. And I am really talking about watching the sport and little else . Indians deserve to appreciate the breadth of international sport and the festivities that they can bring about. If they see that such good stadia exist, they can question the legacy plan for their use and so on so forth!
      The Booing Mr Kalmadi got at the opening ceremony proves that even by attending we can show our resistance.

  2. Yes Harsh – we cannot penalise the real heroes because their bureaucratic organisers messed it all up. Kudos to the sportspersons and all those who have pulled off the CWG at Delhi.

  3. Hi Harsh! I completely agree! Moreover, even though we are embarrassed by the hoopla surrounding corrupt practices, we are, after all, the host nation, and the least we can do is participate!

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