The 19th edition of Common wealth Games to be held in Delhi are in midst of a huge crisis. Obviously the brand CWG is floundering under the sustained media pressure and this in turn is knocking at India’s equity too.
The media has been running a sustained and high pressure campaign dubbing the Commonwealth Games as common stealth games. Everyday there is a new revelation about a misdoing or corruption. The key opinion makers too have had field day writing about what is wrong with the games.
One leading writer of popular fiction has called for the boycott of games, called it the tool of repression and has gone to the extent of saying that the games should be used a tool to overthrow the current Government and install a new regime. In saying so he is only furthering the views of the ex sports minister of India. The jingoism has sunk to a new depth.
As it happens in any prolonged debate, the facts get muddled and perceptions start to become reality. A lot of the facts and figured that are being quoted by various people are more fiction than reality. The Indian Express story on tracking the expenses is possibly the only contrary voice in the debate.
The debates are now slipping into a very predictable pattern of raising a lot of issues but offering no solution. Interestingly the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and even the impending London Olympics are not beyond criticism. There was a very harsh criticism of estimated $6Bn (yes 6Bn Dollars, and by a first world country where supposedly the infrastructure is not a problem) spent by Canada in hosting the games, and London is facing criticism on its entire branding programme, which they say isn’t ‘British’ enough.
The only fact that is absolute truth in this debate is that there has been corruption in hosting these games. It also seems that entire logistics management for hosting the games has seen a collective brain freeze.
So let’s compartmentalize the whole issue. There are the games to be hosted and there are issues in hosting the game. Should we allow the issues to overtake the event? If the brand manager messes up with the distribution should the brand be withdrawn and consigned to dustbin? Or maybe even close the company down which owns the brand? It’s become a classic case of throwing out the baby, but keeping the bathwater.
Now this raises the crucial question: who owns the brand CWG? No, it’s not the organizing committees, it’s not the sports ministries, and it’s definitely not the Governments. The brand is truly owned by the ordinary citizens of the participating countries and the host country has a special interest in the brand for a definite period of time. The athletes who will compete in the games have special interest in the brand, so do those who have competed in past and those who aim to compete in future. Unlike what the critics may be saying about who bothers about the commonwealth club, the special interest group bothers about it. We must see the brand from this prism.
The common public of India, however skeptical it may be, wants India to hold the most spectacular games ever. For its not only the athletes who would be competing in these games, it’s the whole nation that will be competing in these games. The pride, identity and value system of a whole nation is at stake. If the games are all about triumph over adversity, hard work, dedication and going for glory than the time to display all that is now.
We all own the brand, and we must ensure that we pass the right set of legacy and heritage to the next set of trustees. For that to happen, we have to ensure that we as a nation win, and not score a self goal.
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