Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Are you watching the Games?

from w
We are not exactly glued to the TV but many of the events are watchable at various times but it's rather too much 'ra ra' for the Aussies and not much talk of anyone else. A lot of emphasis on swimming of course! However it seems that these huge multi-million stadiums have a lot of waste space as hardly anyone is sitting in the stands. Few tourists, few locals. Why?
Here are some of the answers perhaps - from Associated Press.
NEW DELHI - Seas of empty seats in stadiums and arenas. Scales that gave the wrong readings for boxers at their weigh-ins. And then the royal flub: an official who identified Prince Charles as Prince Diana.

The first few days of competition at the Commonwealth Games are proving nearly as troubled as the squalor and scandal that plagued the run-up to the sporting event.

Following a Bollywood-esque opening spectacle that was supposed to turn the focus on to the field of play, a whole new set of problems has arisen at India's troubled games. Chief among them: how to get a nation of 1.1 billion people interested enough to actually attend some of the events.

On the second day of competition, no more than 100 people were in the 19,000-seat MDC Stadium, which some have called the best field hockey stadium in the world.

Fewer than 20 people were in the 5000-seat tennis stadium for the first match of the tournament, although hundreds arrived later to watch local hopefuls Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes play in doubles.

Only 58 spectators watched the opening match of netball. Swimming attracted a comparatively big crowd, with up to 1200 people creating some atmosphere.

An official at the 4000-seat velodrome, where only about 500 people watched cyclists circle the track, blamed a lack of enthusiasm for some events.

"People have no interest in the sport," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "You will probably find more people at wrestling or weightlifting, in which India is good. Cycling is a Western sport."

The Commonwealth Games - an Olympic-style competition held every four years - bring together nearly 7000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories. India wanted the games, which ended up costing between US$3 billion ($3.9 billion) and US$10 billion, to showcase its emergence as a growing economic power and possibly attract a future Olympics.

But construction delays, corruption allegations, concerns about security and heavy monsoon rains put preparations for the games behind schedule, with complaints about unfinished and filthy accommodations in the athletes' village embarrassing the hosts.

Last night officials were still preparing Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, laying turf on the infield and clearing debris from the site, which was also used for the opening ceremony.

The monsoons led to an outbreak in New Delhi of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that put an Indian lawn bowling team manager in hospital. Also, a teenage boy called in an anonymous bomb threat at the village that turned out to be a hoax.

Some blame the poor attendance on sultry weather that saw temperatures in the 90s. Others blamed the fact that India was hosting a five-day cricket match elsewhere against Australia that probably kept many locals watching television.

Ticket costs could be a factor. Even the cheapest at 50 rupees (about $1.50) are too high for many of New Delhi's poorest people. More than 800 million Indians survive on less than $3 a day.

Organisers are considering giving away free tickets to children and the underprivileged to fill the stadiums.

Mukul Kesavan, an author and history professor at Jamia Millia Islamia University, suggested that many Indians just aren't interested in the Olympic-style sports.

"I'm surprised that they have as many spectators as they say they do," said Kesavan. "Short of large teams sports or maybe tennis, which might attract a die-hard audience, who's going to watch archery or lawn bowls? None of these things sink particularly deeply into the Indian sporting psyche."

- AP



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