Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let's Call it the Disaster Games

The Commonwealth Games starts in a few days. Excitement is mounting and the Australian public is getting more and more impatient to see what they have been expecting for months. Principally what they want to see is a major games venue collapse on top of a collection of dengue fever riddled athletes who can't escape because they're too busy fighting snakes and anyway corrupt police and terrorists have blocked all the exits. This has been the most fascinating games build up in living memory. For the first time ever I actually have some vague interest in the Commonwealth Games.

I think India should be commended for creating such a buzz about these games. Sure you could hold it in a healthy climate, with fewer snakes and terrorists and construction codes that aren't written on the back of an envelope. We did that in Melbourne a few years ago; boring. The most exciting thing in the whole event was waiting for one of the synchronised swimmers to drown (how is that even a sport?). But just give the games to India and look what happens; excitement, interest, government travel warnings. It makes the whole ridiculous business almost worthwhile. The Indian organisers have stepped up to the plate (despite the fact that baseball is about the only sport not being played) and carefully drip fed a catalogue of disasters to the salivating media thus creating a rising tide of expectation and enthusiasm that the games themselves couldn't hope to generate. The only danger now is that everything will go smoothly once the opening ceremony starts and people will lose interest.

Honestly though, here is a message to all the athletes out there whining about conditions in Delhi; harden the fuck up! You're going to India not Monte Carlo. So India has snakes, fever, dodgy construction and groups of people who like to kill other groups of people. You can't really have been that surprised. I knew all that about India despite the fact that my only knowledge of the country comes from reading The Boy Biggles when I was about twelve. One of the South African team members was whining about a snake in his room. As if South Africa doesn't have snakes. They've got mambas there buddy, they'll really wreck your day.

Once upon a time, as a friend of mine keeps informing me with perhaps a little too much attention to detail, athletes competed nude in the open air. The ancient Greek Olympics didn't need magnificent venues or snake wranglers. All they needed was an open field and some spare time. For people who are supposed to represent the physical elite of their nations I can't help thinking these athletes are being a little bit precious. "Oh I can't go to India, my room is dirty. Oh I might catch fever." I've been on holidays with more risk attached and nobody offered to pay for my accommodation (no matter how grubby) and I took the fever medication with me.

Terrorism is a genuine concern of course, nobody goes to the Commonwealth Games expecting to die, or even achieve much really, but what's the alternative. Terrorists are pretty much everywhere these days. We either close down the planet for the duration or take what precautions we can and hope for the best. At least the Indian authorities are used to dealing with terrorist threats. If we'd held the games somewhere safe like (to pick a former colonial outpost at random) Ascension Island then we would have the most boring games imaginable. Although since Ascension doesn't have any inhabitants at least it wouldn't be too irritating for the locals.

India may not be the safest place on the planet but somehow over a billion people manage to get by there every single day. The place can't be a total deathtrap. Actually I rather suspect that most of the fear mongering is coming from those people who will not be going anywhere near India for the duration. "The Games Are Going to be a Disaster" is a great motif for the more irresponsible type of current affairs program (ie: all of them) and scaring the bejesus out of their audience is pretty much their stock in trade. Personally while I think there will be a vast amount of nervousness and worry those involved will nevertheless swallow hard and manfully sit down in front of the television and watch the games. Or in my case sit down in front of the television and not watch the games. I'm sorry but it will take the declaration of all out nuclear war between India and Pakistan to make me tune in.

I am hoping Mozambique can pick up a medal though.


  1. "There is no indigenous or permanent population on the island, although around 880 people live there as of 2010."

  2. Yes but I understand they're mostly soldiers. Maybe they could help with security