Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The 2010 Commonwealth Games Whose Wealth? Whose Commons?

Updated: July 10, 2010 2:41 pm

The budget for the Commonwealth Games 2010 (CWG) has undergone several revisions since India won the bid for the Games in 2003. The exact amount of money that will be spent on the CWG is still unknown. The estimate of the total cost of the Games now ranges from Rs 10,000 (officially) to Rs 30,000 crore. While this figure will probably only be confirmed after the Games, questions can be raised on the sources of funding to meet the rapidly escalating costs of hosting the Games.

Original Budget for the Games

India’s Bid Document for the CWG estimated the cost of hosting the Games in Delhi at US $422 million (Rs 1,899 crore).

            The Evaluation Commission of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) declared in 2003 that; “The US $422 million Delhi expenditure budget lacks detail in many key areas, however, the overriding undertaking is that the Governments of India and Delhi will meet the costs of the Games to be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the CGF, and will underwrite any operating or capital budget shortfall. Total revenue of US $422 million comprises US $235 million in public sector funding and Games revenues of US $186 million, which the Evaluation Commission considers are potentially overstated.”

Increase in Budgetary Cost

According to a 2009 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the budget for the Commonwealth Games 2010 underwent several revisions.

            Originally in May 2003, when the Government of India allowed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to bid for the CWG, an expenditure of Rs 296 crore was indicated towards upgradation of sports infrastructure and conduct of the Games, with expenditure on security and the Games Village to be incurred by the government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

            The updated Bid Document of December 2003, however, estimated:

  1. Operating expenditure alone at Rs 635 crore.
  2. Total expenditure (other than Games operating expenses) at Rs 1,200 crore.
  3. Government grants at       Rs 518 crore.

            The first budget for the Games approved by the Cabinet in April 2007 estimated the total expenditure of the Games at     Rs 3,566 crore ± Rs 300 crore.

            The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) budget estimate for the CWG was       Rs 9,599 crore, of which an amount of Rs 5,645 crore had already been approved. In addition, Rs 3,289 crore from other sources Rs 2,950 crore from Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), Rs 221 crore from New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), and Rs 118 crore from DDA had also been allocated for projects related to the CWG.

The budgetary commitment to the Games was apparently made without a detailed analysis. In response to a question raised in the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2003, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Vikram Verma said, “The details of requirement of funds and its sources can only be worked out once the Games are allotted to India.”

Differing Budget Estimates:

            In December 2003, replying to a question raised in the Lok Sabha, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Vikram Verma, stated that as per estimates of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the likely expenditure on the conduct of the Commonwealth Games was    Rs 399.05 crore as against an expected revenue generation of Rs 490 crore. The projected expenditure according to the Minister did not include the cost of construction of a Games Village (estimated at Rs 186 crore) and an estimated expenditure of Rs 32.5 crore for the construction of an outdoor and indoor stadium at the Yamuna Sports Complex and upgradation of existing infrastructure under the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

            In May-June 2006, it was reported that the cost of the Games had escalated to Rs 5,000 crore. Suresh Kalmadi, President, IOA, commented that, “The Organizing Committee needs   Rs 900 crore for organisation and Rs 300 crore for training of sportspersons. Rest is to be spent by the Delhi Government, the Sports Authority of India, and DDA to build infrastructure for the Games.”

            In July 2006, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Mani Shankar Aiyar, estimated the total cost of the Games to be Rs 7,000 crore though he alsostated that not more than Rs 2,000 crore should be spent on the Games.

            CWG Director General, VK Verma, said on March 24, 2010, that the entire estimated cost of the Games was Rs 10,000 crore.

Budgetary Allocation for the Games

Resources for the Commonwealth Games 2010 have been pledged from both the Union Government and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Funds from the Central Government

From the above table, it is evident that from Rs 45.5 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 2,883 crore in 2009-10 (RE), allocations for the Commonwealth Games in the Union Budget, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, have witnessed an astounding 6,235 per cent increase. Social sector spending in India has never witnessed such a rise, even when the need for increased budgetary allocations for essential services has been critical. For the same period, the Union Budget for education rose by just 60 per cent while the increase in health expenditure was 160 per cent. From 2006-07 to 2010-11, the budgetary allocation from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, to Delhi for the CWG, is Rs 3,150 crore. The increase from 2006-07 to 2009-10 in this budget was 471 per cent.

            While most Central Sector Schemes or Centrally Sponsored Schemes face significant implementation constraints, i.e., resources do not get spent resulting in Revised Estimates (RE) being lower than Estimates (BE) and actuals being lower than the REs, budgetary allocations for Commonwealth Games show a reverse trend. In the first two years, 2005-06 and 2006- 07, RE was equal to BE but from 2007-08 onwards, REs are higher than BEs and in some years more than twice as high as the BE.

            In the 2010-11 Union Budget, the Commonwealth Games have been allocated Rs 2,069.52 crore. Other budgetary allocations from the Centre for Games related expenditures include:

            Rs 378 crore for preparing the teams.

            Rs 176.9 crore for the Union Urban Development Ministry.

            Rs 50 crore for the Delhi government.

            Rs 1 lakh for Delhi Police for paying bandwidth charges for integrated security solutions for the sporting event.

            Rs 82 crore for “high definition coverage” of the Games.

            Rs 11.50 crore for the National Dope Test

            Laboratory, Rs 3 crore for the National Anti-

            Doping Agency, and Rs 50 lakh for the World

            Anti-Doping Agency.

            Rs 15 crore for the National Sports Development Fund.

In November 2004, the Planning Commission assured the Delhi government of financial assistance for building “world class” infrastructure required to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010. “We will try to extend as much help as possible,” the Commission’s deputy chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, told reporter.

            In November 2009, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport (MYAS) for a budget of Rs 1,620 crore for the CWG, which was more than double the earlier allocation of Rs 767 crore. This was given as a loan to the Organizing Committee.

            In March 2010, the Union Cabinet approved another proposal from MYAS for providing a budget of Rs 687.06 crore for overlays (furnishings) for the Games. Within five months of the budget being more than doubled from Rs 767 crore to Rs 1,620 crore, another   Rs 687.06 crore were granted just for furnishings.

            According to data on the website of MYAS, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) received Rs 28.53 lakh as a grant in 2005-06, Rs 538.10 lakh in 2006-07, Rs 244.28 lakh in 2007-08 and Rs 238.96 lakh in 2008-09.

Funds from the Delhi Government

In October 2009, the Delhi government sought additional funds from the Centre to expedite work related to the Commonwealth Games. “We are hopeful of getting additional funds as we were told that there will be no shortage of money for any project related to the event,” said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

            The allocation for CWG projects in Delhi’s 2010-11 Budget got a steep hike of Rs 1,016 crore to reach       Rs 2,105 crore. Of this, Rs 1,000 crore will come from the Centre as additional assistance.

            The highest allocation in Delhi’s 2010-11 budget was for the transport sector, which was given Rs 4,244 crore (38 per cent of the total budget) while social welfare just Rs 87 crore (a mere 7 per cent). Delhi Finance Minister, A.K. Walia, announced that the money would be spent for targeted implementation of all projects related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games. These projects include construction of Thyagaraja Sports Complex, renovation and expansion of Chhatrasal, Talkatora and Shivaji Stadiums, and construction of a Training Indoor Stadium at Ludlow Castle. The government will also construct eight flyovers and 23 road over-bridges or road under-bridges before the Commonwealth Games. New parking sites will be constructed while street lighting will “get a makeover,” he said.

Highlights of Delhi’s 2010-11 Budget:

            Rs 2,019 crore to be spent to add 3,775 low-floor buses to Delhi Transport Corporation fleet.

            New parking facilities to be constructed at a cost of Rs 473 crore.

In order to overcome financial difficulties due to increased spending on projects related to the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi government sought a special assistance of Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre for the sporting event in the Union Budget. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee increased the normal assistance to Delhi from     Rs 208.85 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 229.72 crore in 2010-11, while a separate allocation of Rs 176.9 crore was made to the National Capital Region (NCR) for projects related to the Commonwealth Games.

Financing the Commonwealth Games

According to the 2003 Report of the CWG Evaluation Commission, the projected revenue for the Games was as follows:

Underwriting the Costs

The Report of the Commonwealth Games Evaluation Commission declared that, “The governments of India and Delhi will meet the costs of the Games and…will underwrite any operating or capital budget shortfall.” The Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure, in 2003, had however stated that, “…it does not appear necessary or appropriate for Government of India (GoI) to provide a blanket commitment to underwrite any shortfall between revenue and expenditure of the Organizing Committee. Department of Expenditure therefore does not support the proposal to give such a blanket commitment…”

            Even though the Ministry of Finance cautioned against a “blanket commitment” from the GoI, in practice this is exactly what has happened. All cost escalations have been met by various departments of the government.

Evaluation Commission Report on Sponsorship Revenue Target

The CWG Evaluation Commission, in its 2003 report, also mentioned that the target of US $100 million net revenue from sponsorships is significantly higher than previous Games and is based primarily on anticipated growth within the Indian market, as evidenced by recent commercial sponsorship activities. While the projection is supported by qualified independent analysis (subject to a number of provisions and general market conditions), the Commission is of the view that the target is aggressive, particularly when compared to the targets for Manchester 2002 (US $42 million) and Melbourne 2006 (US $65.7 million), cities in which and other costs are much higher than in Delhi.

Analysis of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on Sponsorships

The increase in projection of sponsorship fees from Rs 450 crore to Rs 960 crore was stated to be based on estimated numbers and gross target prices for different categories of sponsors Calculations based on thesenumbers, however, give figures of targeted revenue ranging from Rs 1,330 to Rs 1,366 crore. During discussions at the exit conference, the Organizing Committee (OC) of the Games indicated that a majority of the sponsorship revenue would be in the form of “value in kind,” which would be used to offset expenses.

            A.K. Mattoo, treasurer of the OC, and Vineet Dixit, the OC’s deputy director general of communications, insisted that the CAG Report was unreliable and based on outdated information. Mattoo saw, “no deterrent to reaching that figure (of Rs 1,780 crore). This isn’t a mathematical model, where we can get so much in the first year, so much in the second year, and so on.” But he acknowledged, “As far as the realisation (of Rs 1,780 crore) is concerned, that is anybody’s guess. This is an estimate for our revenues, and hopefully we’ll come to that figure. That is what one hopes for.”

Broadcasting Rights

The sales of international broadcast rights for the CWG began in 2006. Maximising net broadcast rights revenue is claimed to be critical to the event’s success.

            The government sanctioned     Rs 415 crore to Prasar Bharati for covering the 2010 Commonwealth Games. According to Union Finance Minister, P Chidambaram; “Fifty percent of this will be a grant and the remaining will be a loan. The broadcast rights will be auctioned and there will be a revenue stream, but we can’t say withcertainty whether it will be possible to recover the loan. We’ll see how to deal with that as we go along.”

            The CWG Evaluation sion stated that television revenues (US $67 million) appeared to be “overstated” compared with past achievements.

Proposed Lottery to Raise Revenue the Games

There have been reports of an online lottery series to raise revenue to the tune of around Rs 500 crore to fund the Games. Though lotteries are banned in some Indian states, the CWG Panel has written to these states requesting them to make a one-time exception.

Will the Games Make a Profit, Loss or be Revenue Neutral?

Given the escalating expenditure and unrealistic possibility of meeting revenue targets, there is much uncertainty on whether the CWG will generate a surplus for India.

            2003: According to India’s Bid Document, “It is expected that on completion, the Games are going to generate surplus.” The Indian Olympic Association (IOA), vide its letter No. IOA/CWG/-2010/Bid, dated March 17, 2003, stated that it expects a revenue generation of Rs 490 crore against the projected expenditure of Rs 295.5 crore on staging of the Games and another Rs 1.61 crore on the bidding process.

            July 2009: A report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) noted that, “The Games project is envisaged as a revenue neutral project. The Governmental funding for the OC [Organizing Committee] is in the form of loans, to be repaid through suitable revenue generation. The OC is confident of the Games being revenue neutral. However, given the state of documentation supporting revenue generation estimates and the fact that a majority of the sponsorship revenue is expected in the form of “value in-kind” there is no assurance that the Games would be revenue neutral.”

            The CAG Report also observed that; “As per the latest estimates, the estimated revenue generation of     Rs 1,780 crore would fully defray the total operational expenditure of like amount. The estimated revenue generation, which was pegged at     Rs 900 crore in August 2007, has nearly doubled in the space of about a year. The available documentation, however, could not satisfy us of the soundness of the increased estimate of revenue.”

            November 2009: Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ambika Soni, stated that it was expected that the Games would generate a revenue of Rs 1708 crore.

            Suresh Kalmadi, speaking at the sports breakfast during the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Port of Spain, said the economic impact would be approximately US $4.5 billion (Rs 20.25 crore) for India over a period from 2008 to 2012.

            March 2010: Kalmadi said in an interview, “We had estimated to get US $30 million but will be making US $50 million from the Games. Additionally, we will raise around   Rs 900 crore through sponsors, merchandising and ticketing.”


 Bidding for Glory? Bidding for Shame?


 India’s Bid for the 2010 Games:

  • India’s decision to bid for the Commonwealth Games 2010 was neither transparent nor democratic. It was not discussed in Parliament; neither was there any public debate, consultation or opinion poll among the residents of Delhi.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in a 2009 report observed that India’s decision to bid was approved by the Cabinet ex-post facto in September 2003.
  • Indian officials made a last-minute offer of US $7.2 million (Rs 32.4 crore) during the bidding process, which allegedly clinched the deal in India’s favour. This was an offer to train athletes of all member countries of the Commonwealth (US $100,000 to each of the 72 members). The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) reportedly agreed to review its rules following this monetary buy out.
  • India’s bid also included an offer of a travel grant of US $10.5 million (Rs 48 crore) for an estimated number of 5,200 athletes and 1,800 officials. According to the Evaluation Commission of the Commonwealth Games, this was more than the minimum CGF requirement for travel.
  • Other gratis offers made by India include: luxury accommodation for the “CGF family” in Delhi; chauffeur driven luxury cars for the duration of the Games; and a free trip to the Taj Mahal.
  • The entire bidding process cost India around Rs 89 crore. With the travel grant, the total amounts to Rs 137 crore. This does not include the cost of free sightseeing trips, luxury transport, and other offers
  • The Games Village, being built by Emaar MGF, is expected to cost US $230.7 million (Rs 1,038 crore). The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) offered a Rs 700 crore bailout in May 2009 to the company to meet the costs of construction. This is probably the first ever government bailout for a private realty company in India.
  • A decision to underwrite costs and budget shortfall of the Games was taken, despite the fact that the Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure, Government of India, cautioned against it in 2003.

The Promise of the 2010 Games: True Claims? False Hopes?

  • The organisers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games have claimed several benefits for Delhi, all of which are questionable.
  • The entire proposed expenditure for sports infrastructure, as initially submitted by the Indian Olympic Association in its Bid Document, was Rs 150 crore. Already, an expenditure of at least Rs 3,390 crore has been incurred on stadiums, most of which are likely to remain unused after the Games, as experience from the 1982 Asian Games has shown. The increase in expenditure on stadiums is already 2,160 per cent of the initial projected budget.
  • The total expenditure on infrastructure for the CWG is still unknown. In March 2006, Delhi Finance Minister declared that the amount spent on infrastructure development by different agencies in the run-up to the CWG, was     Rs 26,808 crore. In March 2010, Chief Secretary, Government of Delhi, stated that the total amount spent on infrastructure in Delhi in the last three years was Rs 13,350 crore.
  • The much publicised infrastructure development in Delhi has, however, been hurried, expensive, poorly planned, environmentally unsound, exploitative of workers, slum dwellers and “beggars,” and in violation of norms and planning processes, including the Master Plan for Delhi 2021.
  • While the total budget for “beautification” projects in Delhi is undisclosed, the amount already spent by the government is hundreds of crores. The streetscaping of just one street, Lodi Road, is estimated to cost   Rs 18.55 crore.
  • Authoritative international research studies have proven that hosting mega sports events is not an effective way of achieving a sustained increase in participation in sports, as claimed by the government. If India is truly committed to building an improved sports culture, it should follow the recommendations of the report on “Promotion of Sports in India,” presented by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development to the Rajya Sabha in November 2006.
  • The claim that the CWG will help create a “clean, beautiful, vibrant, world class” Delhi has already been proven wrong with grave human costs in the form of slum demolitions, arrests of homeless citizens and beggars, destruction of livelihoods of the urban poor, and environmental degradation.

The Social Legacy of the Games: Who Gains? Who Loses?

  • Delhi has witnessed evictions and demolitions of informal settlements and slums in the run-up to the CWG. Most evictions are generally carried out to construct roads, bridges, stadiums, and parking lots, or under the guise of city “beautification,” ostensibly to create a “world class” city.
  • Authorities are clearing street vendors, rickshaw pullers, and other informal sector workers off the roads, and destroying livelihoods of the urban poor.
  • “Beggars” and homeless citizens are being rounded up, arrested and arbitrarily detained under the Bombay Prevention of Beggary Act 1959. The Department of Social Welfare has announced “no-tolerance zones” in Delhi and a harsh crackdown against “beggars,” including plans to send them back to their states of origin.
  • There is rampant exploitation of workers at CWG construction sites. This includes low pay, unsafe working conditions, lack of housing, use of child labour, non-registration of workers, and denial of social security benefits. More than a hundred deaths have been reported from the CWG sites. No compensation has been offered to family members of the workers who lost their lives.
  • Civil liberties in Delhi are being curtailed, and as the Games draw near, the city is likely to witness increased surveillance and restrictions against residents.

Independent Analyses of the Economic Impact of Mega Sport Events:

            Many independent researchers have found that exante predictions of economic impact made by event organisers far exceed the ex-post estimates. Claims that sports mega events provide a substantial boost to the economy of the host city, region, and country have been strongly challenged by some scholars

            “Developing” nations are more adversely impacted by such events.

            “Cities and countries would be well advised to more thoroughly evaluate booster promises of a financial windfall from hosting a sports megaevent such as the World Cup and Olympics before committing substantial public resources to such an event. Indeed, hosting these premier events may be more of a burden than an honour.”

No modern Games have made money when all costs, including public money and land transfers, infrastructure costs, and security are factored in. Far from making profits, the host countries incur severe debts.

The World’s Experience with Mega Sports Events

            Munich 1972 Olympic Games: The city lost more than US $1 billion on hosting the Games.

            Montreal 1976 Olympic Games: The city incurreda US $1 billion deficit. The debt was finally paidoff in November 2006, i.e. 30 years later. Muchof the debt was serviced through a special tax on tobacco. The financial woes of the Montreal Games left many nations wary of hosting the Olympics so much so that Los Angeles’ bid for the 1984 Summer Olympics went uncontested. In fact throughout the 1980s, Montreal’s experience discouraged other cities from bidding for the Olympics.

            Salt Lake City 2000 Winter Olympic Games: American taxpayers subsidised the Salt Lake Winter Olympics with billions of dollars, but it left them with a US $155 million deficit. The total cost came to US $3 billion. After the Games, the tax revenues of Utah State fell so far short of predictions that the state faced a US $155 million shortfall, slashed spending, and had to dip into emergency funding. The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games cost Americans at least US $342 million. The bidding process for the Games was also mired in a scandal, with as many as 20 of the International Olympic Committee’s 110 members accepting bribes and gifts in a campaign to sway votes in awarding the 2002 Winter Games.

            Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games: Twelve months before the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the government needed to provide emergency cash injection of £105 million, which included a £25 million contingency fund. The cash injection came amid reports that the organisers had massively underestimated the cost of running the Games. The actual cost, however, came to £786 million. The plan for raising revenues through advertising and tickets was not met. In the years since 2002, Manchester dug into reserve savings, sold land to raise money, and diverted profits from its investments in the Manchester Airport.

            Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games: The initial bid for the Games was placed in 1998 at US $195 million but by the end of 1999, it had escalated to almost US $400 million. In April 2003, the state government admitted that the Games budget had exploded to over US $1.1 billion. The cost of staging the event had more than doubled. More than US $200 million of taxpayers’ money was spent on upgrading a variety of sport facilities.


 Time For Kalmadi & Co To Retire


On the eve of International Olympic Day, the members of Clean Sports India Society wrote an open letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge to bring his attention about the current state of affairs of the Olympic Movement in India, that there is a serious threat to the very foundation of the values of sport. Here are the excerpts from the letter:

            You may be aware that the Indian Olympic Family is essentially controlled by people who have never played any sport in their lives. They are essentially politicians, civil servants, military officers and businessmen.

            We are aware that in the history of the Olympic Movement many non-sports persons have made a valuable contribution to sport. The current situation in India is significantly different. During the last few decades a certain section of people have been using the sport as a vehicle to gain political power and to satisfy their greed keeping the sports persons like us as mere bystanders. The worst is that these self-appointed sports politicians of India think and openly talk that only they can manage sports and not sports persons like us.

            In his most recent public statement Mr Suresh Kalmadi, the President of Indian Olympic Association, said “sports federations should be headed either by a politician or a businessman or a bureaucrat and not a former sportsman.” Please refer to India’s leading national English daily newspaper Times of India, Bangalore edition, dated May 21st, 2010.

            We thank God that you were born in a country like Belgium and could thereby become president of your National Olympic Committee and the president of International Olympic Committee despite being an Olympian!

            It is not only Kalmadi who thinks that politicians can only manage Indian sports. There are several others in many political parties of India who think like him. This is an unfortunate aspect of Indian sports politics.

            We have another veteran sports politician Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who has been the President of Indian Archery Association for 39 years. Each time he is “elected” unanimously and many times in his drawing room!

            Mr Malhotra is a staunch ally of Mr Kalmadi, who has been head of Indian Olympic Association for over 25 years, in retaining the control over Indian sports, though their political parties are invariably at loggerheads and rivals in Indian politics. It is a wonderful example of cooperation of warring political parties of India; thanks to their sporting spirit!

            This duo plays an active lead role of protecting and promoting the current system where almost all constituents of Olympic Association of India are led by non sports persons. They meticulously ensure to see that no sports person come anywhere near decision-making bodies of sports federations. This situation of non-sports person domination on sports bodies does not only exist at the national level. They have ensured that it percolated all the way down to state bodies so that their power base over national bodies continues without any threat from sports persons like us.

            To give a concrete example from a North-eastern state of India called Assam, where almost the entire sports federations structure is controlled by politicians. Two ministers of this State hold ten important positions in Olympic family of Assam. Several other ministers, current and former Members of State Assembly and Members of Parliament from that state head other sports bodies. The ultimate icing on the cake; is that the Chief Minister of the State heads the Assam Olympic Association. We were told that if the Chief Minister does not sit at the head of the table of the Olympic Family, the problems arising out of Assam sports may affect politics of the Government of Assam! Though this Chief Minister is not so keen on clinging on to the Olympic Association of Assam, political compulsions arising out of the Sports bodies of Assam seems to have compelled him to continue. And Assam is not alone in this kind of paradox. Sports federations in almost all Indian states are dominated by practicing politicians.

            This is the kind of system of Indian sports which is jealously guarded by the brave leaders of the Indian Olympic Movement like Suresh Kalmadi and Vijay Kumar Malhotra. They are misusing the principles of “autonomy” of Olympic Movement for their personal ends. They remind the Indian sports fraternity time and again that if this “autonomy” of sports bodies is threatened, India will be banned

from International Olympic Movement whereas the same Olympic bodies are heavily interlinked to the political systems and state power. They have been fooling the nation with this fairy tale for decades to run the Indian sport like their fiefdom.

            Elections to sports bodies are manipulated by politicians, civil servants, military leaders and businessmen using the state power and money. Over a period of time, sports politicians made elections of sports bodies a mockery of democracy. Most of the times they get elected unanimously as no one even dares to file a nomination.

            You may be aware of the mess in Indian hockey. Almost two years ago the Indian Olympic Association de recognised the Indian Hockey Federation, headed by a former powerful police chief, as its secretary was caught taking a bribe for selecting a player in the national team. Such charges are common in Indian sports.

            What is important to note is that we still do not have a proper hockey body in India basically because         Mr Kalmadi kept manipulating the recognition of state units. The only criteria to recognise a new state unit of hockey in India is that the unit will support the election of Mr Kalmadi as the President. India hosted the Hockey World Cup this year without a properly elected body in place as Mr Kalmadi was working hard on developing a “consensus” for his unanimous election to Hockey India. This hidden motive of this ambitious sports politician is the main reason for the current mess in Indian Hockey today, apart from several other subsidiary reasons. For Mr Kalmadi it is not important to have a proper governing body for a national sport like hockey. Indian sport has become a vehicle of his power and glory.

            Indian sport. has become victim of power, corruption and mismanagement for decades. No wonder India with over a billion population could win only one individual Olympic Gold Medal so far! That speaks volumes about the governance of Indian sports by politicians and other non sports persons.

            We understand and appreciate your difficulty in dealing with such complaints against “elected” National Olympic Committees. We the Indian sports persons were also at fault by not asserting our own rights. We cannot complain too much about it unless we also work to correct these fault lines in Indian sports system.

            Having realised our rights and duties, we the following signatories to this open letter to you and all the heads of International Sports Federations are taking a bold step to start a civil society movement called “Clean Sports India”, on International Olympic Day, 23 June 2010.

            We plan to take up several types of lawful activities like sports runs, discussions, seminars etc to educate the people at large to create public opinion against the mismanagement of sports by non sports persons.

            These sports politicians have destroyed the confidence of the former sports persons giving the impression that only they can manage sport. We will undertake various programmes to build confidence and capacities of former sports persons so that they come forward to join the sports management in the country at every level from local sports clubs to national federations.

            We are also keen to fight the drug menace in Indian sports, which is not properly controlled and to some extent encouraged by Sports Federation officials. We are aware and appreciate your personal efforts to fight drug menace at international level. This will also be one of the objectives of the Clean Sports India Movement.

            We take this brave step to launch this nationwide movement on the historic day the 23rd June, a day on which Pierre de Coubertin the Father of the Olympic Movement laid the foundation for International Olympic Committee in 1894 in Paris to revive the Modern Olympic Games in 1896.

            We seek your support which will not be unreasonable. At this moment we are only requesting you to watch Indian sports scenario carefully. And when you and the heads of International Sports Federations take stock of the situation in India in the coming months and years, please do not rely only on the information provided by the Indian Olympic Association and other National Sports Federations of India. They will lie to you and go to any extent to sabotage our movement. We request you to open independent channels of information so that you can make better judgment in the coming years on the new era of the Indian Olympic Movement.

            We realise that we have to make clear and bold steps, and not drag our feet, to make footprints on the sand of time. We also know; we have a long and bumpy road ahead to reach our goal.

            But we shall overcome one day. And that day may not be very far away.

(Clean Sports India is a newly-launched outfit with the objective to create an environment wherein Olympic Sports Federations, Associations and Clubs in India are managed essentially by former sports persons.)


No Real Profits Even for the Claimed“Winners”

Even those mega sports events that claim to have made

profits, incurred different types of financial problems, questioning the “win-win” assertion of such games.

            Los Angeles Olympic Games, 1984: The costs of the Games were covered by federal taxes to the tune of US $75 million; more than 30 companies contributed US $126 million. The city did not build much new infrastructure, and corporate sponsors covered necessary construction. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report estimated that Americans paid US $75 million to support the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

            Barcelona Olympic Games, 1992: Though the Games are recorded as a success, they did not fulfil the expectations they claimed. The Olympic investments (including some roads, coastal area renewal, cultural outlets, etc.), reached nearly 6 million euros; 53 per cent of that budget came from public funds.

            Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996: Officially, Atlanta made US $10 million on the Olympics, but that excludes the US $1 billion in hidden costs that Atlanta taxpayers have spent on infrastructure.

Financial Legacy of the 2010 Games

The long-term financial effects of the CWG on the city of Delhi and the country are difficult to predict. The financial legacy of the Games will depend on the extent of losses or debt that the government incurs The excessive expenditure on the CWG, however, has already begun to impact the economy with implications on resource allocation, especially for the city of Delhi.

            The bidding process for the CWG has cost India more than Rs 89 crore. With travel costs, this amounts to Rs 137 crore.

            In 2009, the Union government declared an increase in public expenditure by Rs 25,727 crore, a part of which was attributed to additional funds for the Commonwealth Games.

            In January 2010, Delhi Finance Minister, A.K. Walia, admitted, “The government has no extra funds to spend next fiscal.” The local administration has sought around Rs 5,000 crore from the federal government to finish various Games-related work taken up by public bodies. A.K. Walia also stated that, “of the total money required, the state has sought Rs 500 crore this year for the Games and about         Rs 2,000 crore each for the next two fiscals.”

            On March 5, 2010, Minister Walia declared that, “All other projects and plans will have to wait. We will try to accommodate whatever is a must in the budget. Projects that are not directly related to the Commonwealth Games will have to wait. We will only consider need-based projects. And whatever is required, we will try to accommodate.”

            The Delhi Government is already facing a financial crunch due to the CWG projects, and has no money to pay for the third phase of the Delhi Metro. “We are broke,” said Delhi Finance Minister, A. K. Walia in April 2010. The Government has written to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to shoulder the burden of Delhi Metro. “We already have to pay Delhi Metro Rs 758.87 crore, which is due on account of the construction of Phase II. The government cannot spend anything this year on Metro after this.”

            According to a senior government official, “the Organizing Committee is asking for waivers in a piece-meal approach. If this continues, we will go into serious debt.”

            Citing financial crunch due to heavy spending on Commonwealth Games projects, the Delhi government, in the last six months, has hiked bus fares and water tariff, withdrawn subsidy on LPG cylinders, and increased VAT on a number of items.

            For the lower and middle classes, the most immediate and problematic legacy of the Games is the increase in the cost of living. The Delhi Budget 2010-11 increased several direct and indirect taxes in Delhi; this has allegedly been attributed due to the government shortfall in meeting escalating costs of the Games. Delhi has become a more expensive city due to the Commonwealth Games.

            Land prices have escalated in the Trans-Yamuna area of Delhi, particularly in Mayur Vihar, Patparganj and Noida because of the CWG and the Metro project.

Real estate prices in Beijing had soared before the 2008 Olympic Games. In Barcelona, the cost of housing increased 139 per cent (sales) and 145 per cent (rentals) between 1986 and 1993. In the case of the Barcelona Games, “the market price of old and new housing rose between 1986 and 1992 by 240 per cent and 287 per cent respectively.” A further 59,000 residents left Barcelona to live elsewhere between the years of 1984 and 1992. In Sydney, house prices doubled between 1996 and 2003. Research by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) has shown that the cost of housing escalates due to mega events and the host city’s stock of social and low cost housing diminishes.

Excerpts from the report of Housing and Land Rights Network, South Asia Regional Programme, Habitat International Coalition.

 By Shalini Mishra, Shivani Chaudhary and Miloon Kothari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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