Monday, October 4, 2010

Spectacular Bollywood-style Opening, India Proves CWG Critics Wrong

Drum beating rhythm is part of the opening ceremony show of the 19th Commonwealth Games, India. Pic: Dusa Abas
From P. Vijian & Frank Julian Martin

NEW DELHI, Oct 4 (Bernama) -- Brushing aside weeks of callous criticism, of poor hygiene, dengue threat, scams, shoddy works to snakes at the games villages, India Sunday proudly showed off a pulsating opening of the Commonwealth Games (CWG), with a dazzling tinge of Bollywood twist.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (JNS), main games venue, burst into rainbow colours, with fireworks illuminating the monsoon-beaten city skyline, while gyrating folk Indian dancers backed by Indian music suffused arena.

It was truly, a culturally rich Indian welcoming ceremony.

"It is like the Indian monsoon wedding. Everything is done at the last minute and finally all will be well and everybody happy," former Indian hockey star Aslam Sher Khan, who helped India win its sole 1975 World Cup title, told Bernama.

For the first time in CWG history, two dignitaries, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Indian president Prathiba Patil declared the games open (a compromise between India and Commonwealth Games Federation on who opens the games), was another feature in Delhi.

India's Oscar award winner, A.R. Rahman's rendition of the re-jigged CWG theme song "Jiyo Utho Badho Jeeto" (live, rise people and win) added another musical tune in the sultry night, turning an earlier pessimist mood into sporty atmosphere.

Indians known for their gritty tenacity, pulled off a magnificent ceremony despite all odds and deftly skirted a near disaster, similar to the 1986 Edinburgh Games, where 32 Commonwealth nations withdrew due to a political boycott and financial mismanagement.

"Despite delays in completing the infrastructure, Indians have gone to a great extent to make this a great show.

"I think the games will be a great success too and I am looking forward for the games to start," Major (Rtd) S. Maniam, world's top squash star Nicol David's ex-coach told Bernama.

India, world's seventh largest country, was striving to replicate its 1982 Asian Games success, to turn around the controversy-marred 2010 games into an epitome event, which could add a fillip to its international sporting image.

About 50,000 people jam-packed the JNS, under a canopy of heavily armed security -- from snipers to commandos -- while millions glued to their television sets to get a glimpse of India's major sporting extravaganza.

"India is ready, ready to host the games. Delhi will be an impeccable host, prepared to deliver a great games," said Suresh Kalmadi, the organising chairman of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games during his opening speech.

Indians paid a hefty price to host the 19th edition of the games as it cost the exchequer a staggering US$6 billion (RM18 billion), 100,000 paramilitary troops stationed to protect the games, shops and malls shut down, including education institutions while traffic snarls choked the city daily.

"The negative publicity all over the world because of this games had been very painful for many Indians, especially those staying abroad. Now it all depends how India conducts the games in the next few days," added Khan.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles who represented Queen Elizabeth, said it was fitting for 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in India because when athletes participate, it would serve as an impression for peace throughout the world.

A record 6,800 athletes would participate in the multi-sport games, slated from Oct 3 to 14.


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