Once again in the arena of international sport, the athletes are the men and women caught in the middle.
It’s becoming a familiar theme. As inept Commonwealth Games organizers and corrupt Indian politicians flail away in New Delhi on the eve of one of the world’s most historic and significant sporting spectacles, the competitors are made to wait.
It’s a shame because the major purpose of such multi-sport Games has never been to demonstrate the economic clout or cultural charm of the host city but instead to showcase the best in sport as performed by legions of diverse athletes full of youthful potential.
The Commonwealth gathering has for 80 years been known as “The Friendly Games.”
Now, as the opening ceremony at Nehru Stadium approaches, the ever- present officials who have come to dominate sport bicker, banter and barter, causing consternation for the athletes.
In spite of it all, the overwhelming majority of those who have earned the right to wear the Maple Leaf in New Delhi are determined to get there.
“My duty is to make sure I’m preparing myself for competition,” says Ohenewa Akuffo, a wrestler and world championship silver medallist.
“Until my country let’s me know it is not safe to go I’m not going to let my Commonwealth experience pass me by.”
Two Canadian archers have pulled out of the Games for personal reasons. Others, like Olympian Crispin Duenas, remain steadfast.
“I never considered not going. I am solely there to compete for my country,” Duenas says.
“The reason that I want to go is to show that Canadians have the tenacity and the drive to compete no matter what the conditions might be.”
Canadian high jump champion Nicole Forrester is determined to compete at her fourth Commonwealth Games.
“To decide not to go at this point would be based on sensationalized fear and possibly leave me haunted with regret,” Forrester admits. “India may not have everything completed, but as long as they have a high jump pit, a bar and a surface for me to jump off, I’m good to go.”
If you listen to the athletes you can hear their resolve on this matter.
They will compete in spite of the commotion and as it has been at so many multi-sport Games in the recent past, they will save the day in India.