Delays Threaten India's Commonwealth Games

October’s New Delhi Commonwealth Games* were supposed to be for India what the 2008 Beijing Olympics were for China, the big sporting event showcasing the country’s arrival as an economic power. Instead, the Games are putting the spotlight on India’s worst problems, widespread corruption and poor infrastructure. Check out this story by my Bloomberg colleague, Subramaniam Sharma. “A day after the delayed opening of the weightlifting hall for New Delhi’s Commonwealth Games,” the story begins, “workers in white helmets climbed across its roof to fix leaks.” Subbu adds, “While state control in China ensured [Beijing] was ready for rehearsals, Delhi’s government-run efforts have been mired in delays, accusations of corruption and mismanagement.”

With more than a dozen other Commonwealth Games venues also behind schedule, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the weekend ordered an investigation. That begs the question of why Singh waited so long. The Commonwealth Games ain’t the Olympics, and as the Financial Times points out, several big-name athletes are giving it a pass. (Queen Elizabeth isn’t planning on showing up, either.) Still, this is a major event and I can’t see why Singh is stepping in only now, less than 50 days before the Games are scheduled to begin. Say what you will about the Chinese government, this kind of embarrassment wouldn’t happen in China.

* Originally I wrote the Games start in September, but opening day is October 3.

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