Is Delhi an unlikely saviour for the Commonwealth Games?
Global news has been dominated in recent days by the controversy over the readiness of Delhi to host this years Commonwealth Games. But the drama is going to have me glued to the telly, I can tell you!
You see, the Delhi games was to be the first that would not be attended by the Queen since Kingston, Jamaica in 1966 – so even the monarchy seems bored with this outdated expression of its old colonial legacy.
Yet without the current dramas over unstable structures and unsanitary accommodation, lets be honest; whod give a stuff about a tournament thats seen to be as marginal as Britains decaying Commonwealth itself?
The Commonwealth Games brand has been in terminal decline for a number of years with viewers and media outlets alike preferring the bi-annual World Championships or the glam and glitz of the Diamond League events. Now, not many modern audiences care a jot for whats seen as a third tier sporting tourney, and that has significantly undermined the Commonwealth Games attraction as a brand.
But this doom and gloom fails to make an important distinction, and that is of the Games as a sporting spectacle versus the role of the Games as a global marketing campaign for the host country.
The reason India wanted the Games in the first place – and invested several billion dollars to make it happen – was to announce their arrival on the world stage as a solid, maturing economic power. Instead they are left looking like a disorganised, inept nation with quality, labour and planning issues.
But Indias problems, might be the Games godsend. What the Games now get, is an unparalleled amount of pre-event publicity that almost begs you to tune in and see what happens.
As media-watchers, we all love a cliffhanger, and Delhi 2010 has turned into the soap opera of the year. I wonder how many people will now be tuning in just to see if the springboard breaks, or if the weightlifter falls through the temporary floor? I know I will be.
We finally have a compelling reason to watch. And when we watch its down to the athletes. If they perform and turn this Games into an intriguing battle, then people will enjoy the experience and they will come back, providing a much needed opportunity to have people fall back in love with the Commonwealth Games.
Although a catastrophe for Indias commercial and logistical reputation, this amount of pre-event publicity could be exactly what is needed to pull the Commonwealth Games back from the brink of irrelevance and obsolescence.