Leave New Delhi and India alone
The upcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi seem to have been beset by problems. The athlete village was labeled “filthy”, a pedestrian bridge to the main stadium collapsed, part of a ceiling fell in at the weight-lifting venue, and so it went on.
It seemed that the host city couldn’t take a trick, and the reports sent ripples of panic through competing nations’ teams.
But the most serious reported breach was the sting operation by Mike Duffy and Channel Seven, where the Seven reporter allegedly successfully smuggled an explosive device past security checkpoints at the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium. My initial thought when I saw this was, “He’s crazy.
What happens if he gets caught with a bomb?” It was the same question asked of him by 2UE presenter Sandy Aloisi during an interview, and it started sending up some red flags.
Because, as the ABC’s Media Watch program showed last night, there was allegedly little chance of that happening. Duffy allegedly didn’t have an explosive device and take his empty suitcase through a stadium checkpoint. It seems, according to Media Watch, the “stinger” has now himself been “stung”.
New Delhi, and by association, India, has been portrayed in the last few weeks as disorganised, under-prepared, dirty, and chaotic.
We have seen athlete boycotts, ultimatums, concerns about athlete and visitor safety due to the threat of terrorist activity, and questions about whether New Delhi should have been given the Games in the first place.
Australian Games official John Coates unequivocally said that it shouldn’t have. I don’t understand how he can make that judgment before the games have even started. No-one made that claim over Atlanta, yet it has a reputation for being the most chaotic, disorganised, worst-run major sports event in modern times.
Oh, but wait, it was in the United States, where building codes are much tighter, everything’s really clean and modern, and there’s NEVER a threat to national security…
Is it all a perception of ignorance? If you were to ask someone who hasn’t been their perceptions of India, what percentage would say, “dirty, dangerous, chaotic”?
Having traveled through the country, I often tell people that it is a must-see destination – one of the most amazing, diverse, colourful and friendly places I have been to.
The hotels I stayed in (low to mid-range) were spotlessly clean and proprietors took great pride in their establishments.
So now I’m wondering how many of the photos that have been circulating through the media were from rooms in the athlete village that were about to be occupied?
It seems that every major sporting event faces this kind of scrutiny in the lead-up to its commencement. The World Cup in South Africa, the Beijing Olympics and the Athens Games faced similar issues months and weeks before they started.
However, the New Delhi Games have been targeted in a way that has run very close to a repugnant form of stereotyping that media organisations should be ashamed of, especially Channel Seven.
All of the media reporting has athletes in a sort of “lockdown” mode, with very few willing to venture beyond the confines of the athlete village due to fears for their personal safety, and reports of the imminence of terrorist threats. Perhaps they should instead take a leaf out of Steve Waugh’s book.
The former Australian cricket captain took many opportunities to immerse himself in the culture of India during frequent tours, rather than lock himself away in a five-star hotel, and is a revered figure in the country.
The Commonwealth Games are something of an anachronism, and their meaning in the modern world is diluted. But that’s not New Delhi’s fault, and they are still a major event on the sporting calendar. The city needs to be given the chance to host the event, and then be judged when it’s over.
Having Australian TV reporters run false stings might initially damage the reputation of the city, but in the end plays straight into false prejudices and shatters the credibility of those who perpetrate them.
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.