Global media salutes India for holding successful Games (Roundup)By IANS
Friday, October 15, 2010
NEW DELHI - A day after the Commonwealth Games ended here as spectacularly as it began, the international media Friday hailed India and the host city for organising one of the world’s best sporting events.
From Canada to New Zealand and from Africa to Australia, and closer home from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, commentators and officials showered praise on the conduct of the Games that at times looked like being called off.
But leaping from the earlier uncertainty, the Indian authorities pulled off a spectacular show that stunned athletes and officials including those who were sceptical earlier of New Delhi’s capabilities.
The New Zealand Herald praised India, saying “Delhi far exceeded expectations. As the Games ended Thursday, Delhi had them in good order.”
“For a Games where all the (Western media) talk going in was about cancellation, and where athletes bailed out pre-Games for fears over their safety and hygiene, Delhi far exceeded expectations,” it said.
Thousands, including foreign athletes and officials, and millions around the world watched in awe as India put up an impressive closing ceremony Thursday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium — where an awesome opener had floored almost everyone.
Thursday’s event in which Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the chief guest marked the culmination of 11 days of intense competition in 17 disciplines in which Australia finished on top.
The big gainer was host India which, for the first time, finished second in the medals tally with more than 100 medals including 38 gold - one more than England.
Despite the many — and some justified — apprehensions raised, particularly in Australia, Britain and Canada before the Games began, the event passed off without any major glitch.
So much so that many athletes and officials called it one of the best international sporting event, with the Commonwealth Games Village dining section coming in for high praise.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph commented: “Indians have a right to feel warm about their justified claims that the Commonwealth Games were reasonably well run. This was New Delhi with its best.”
Australian newspaper The Age paid glowing tributes.
“The people of Delhi have done a terrific job, and are entitled to be proud. Faced with a lot of hurdles, they’ve pulled it off admirably,” the Melbourne daily said.
But it did not spare the Indian organisers.
“They have let their country down,” it said. But “neither the people of Delhi, nor India as a whole, can be held accountable for the incompetence of (Games) Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi. Locals have been left to pick up the pieces, and done so manfully.”
Another Australian daily, the Herald Sun, was more emphatic: “The people of India, their goodwill and kindness triumphed over the Organising Committee’s chaos and corruption in the end.” It said the Indians proved to be “gracious hosts”.
Patience Shikwambana, South Africa’s chef de mission, said she never doubted India’s ability.
“The Games were wonderful. This was the best Games Village I’ve ever seen with facilities like a swimming pool, gymnasium and a track for athletes right next door. Even the competition venues were great, and I would give them nine on 10. The organisation was one of the best I’ve come across.”
The fault-finding Canadian media praised the closing ceremony as “sparkling” and “spectacular” but called the event “one of most dramatic and challenged editions of the (Commonwealth) Games”.
Pakistani journalists paid handsome tributes to India.
“I have been to all the Commonwealth Games venues in Delhi and all of them are fantastic and world class. India really invested a lot in building infrastructure for the Games,” Pakistan AAJ TV reporter Abbas Shabbir told IANS.
Rizwan Ali from the Associated Press agreed. “As the event progressed, things became smoother and India managed to host a fantastic Games,” said Ali.
The most important salute came from Mike Fennell, the Commonwealth Games Federation chairman. “Delhi has performed.”