Commonwealth Games in Delhi – Cowards and bad journalists

via Bob McKerrow – Wayfarer by Bob McKerrow on 10/1/10

I simply love watching Olympic and Commonwealth Games and so many good memories flood back of huddled round an old Ultimate radio listening in 1956 to Norman Reed winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics in Melbourne. Then later, hearing Peter Snell and Murray Halberg win their golds in 1960 in Rome, and Barry Magee’s bronze in the marathon. In 1964 I recall vividly hearing Snell get his gold double and John Davies coming in third in the 1500 metres.

Then TV came along and we could watch the NZ rowing eights win a gold in 1972 and John Walker winning the 1500 m Gold in the Montreal Olympics.

Having lived in India for approx 16 years and especially in New Delhi from 2000 to late 2006, New Delhi has a special place in my heart. In November I am visiting frinds there. I know India will turn on a super games, and yes, it will be pandimonium up until the last minute and paint will still br drying as the first medal is presented. But hey, this is India and this is why it will be a memorable games.

But I have been so embarrassed with the antics of my fellow New Zealanders, generally a tough and resilient people who recently survived a major earthquake in Christchurch with such courage, but to those, especially the media and some athletes who have pulled out or believe the are competing in a den of Al Qaida terrorists, I say the Games would be better off without you.

A New Zealand television reporter was seen smearing mud on a wall last week at the athletes’ village in a bid to spice up the images for a report on the grimy conditions.

The Australian journalist who sensationally claimed to have walked a bomb into Jawaharal Nehru Stadium was exposed by the ABC Media Watch programme as a fake.

And then there was the ITN reporter who fabricated a bomb scare so his boss would shift him to a hotel closer to his mates. Where are the ethics of the journalists.

For those athletes who have pulled out because of security, a shame on you. My second son was born in Delhi in 2003, and I would travel anywhere in India in public transport with my children and felt perfectly safe. Ironically, New Delhi is safer than Auckland, Wellington or my dear Christchurch. India armed  and security forces are among the best in the world so I have no fear of security events, despite threats.

Then there is the Michael Hooper saga, another New Zealander. We have protesters yelling “Leave Michael Hooper, go back, go back!” This week Hooper, head of the Commonwealth Games Federation,was branded a racist.

Reports in India quoted Hooper as having said Delhi's "population hazard" hampered the organisation of the Games.  He also made headlines for his lavish lifestyle, with a stipend and servants paid for by the Indian taxpayer through the Games Organising Committee.

Delhi has been in a race against time to be ready for the opening ceremony on Sunday, with venues and the athletes’ village barely operational.

But for those of us who have lived in New Delhi, and other parts of India for long periods of time, the last minute rush to finish things is an ingrained part of the Indian culture.

The official mascot, Shera, a cartoon tiger is described as “a fierce competitor but with integrity and honesty”. Shera is also a `large-hearted gentleman’ who loves making friends and enthusing people to `come out and play’.

As Toby Robson said in his article in the Dominion today,” Let’s hope the athletes display the better qualities of human nature when the sports finally start in two days.”

India, New Delhi, I know you will pull off a world class spectacle.Shame on you who believed it would’t.

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