Monday, 30 November 2009

Commonwealth reaffirms decision to suspend Fiji

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago has stuck to its decision to ban Fijian athletes from competing in next year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

The leaders of the 53 nations that make up the Commonwealth - including Australia, Britain, New Zealand and South Africa expressed deep concern at the further deterioration of the situation in Fiji Islands with regard to its adherence to fundamental Commonwealth values, including the abrogation of the Constitution in April 2009, ongoing restrictions on human rights including freedom of speech and assembly, and the interim government's decision to further delay elections until 2014.

Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth on September 1 after self-appointed Fijian leader Frank Bainimarama refused to hold elections by 2010.

The CHOGM leaders "observed that Commonwealth sporting events represent a significant public demonstration of the unity of the Commonwealth as a family of members with a shared commitment to fundamental values. They affirmed that sporting ties under the Commonwealth name are inseparable from the values of the (Commonwealth Games) Association".

Saturday, 28 November 2009

2010 Commonwealth Games: Let Fiji play

Fiji's bid to be part of the Commonwealth Games has gained momentum with the Pacific Games Council and the Olympic Sports Federations of Oceania throwing their weight behind the cause. Fiji's fate on whether it will take part in the Commonwealth Games 2010 will be known at the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting next week.

A statement by the two bodies said they were united in their opposition to the recent decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, subsequently endorsed by the Commonwealth Games Federation, to exclude Fiji athletes from competing at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

"The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group's decision to fully suspend Fiji from certain Commonwealth activities, such as sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, whilst trade, commerce and other activities are able to continue unfettered only serves to highlight the inconsistencies of the Commonwealth's approach," the statement said.

"These type of inconsistencies create great and understandable disillusionment and resentment within the sporting fraternity, its participants, supporters and communities all over the world and in this case specifically, within the Oceania region.

"The athletes of Fiji are fit, healthy, talented and dedicated young people whose sporting prowess on the Commonwealth Games fields of play in Delhi can only serve to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between Fiji and other Commonwealth countries and thereby set an example for other Fijians to follow right through to their Government.

"The athletes of Fiji are therefore the very last group of people within Fiji who should be used as a bargaining chip to punish the behavior of its Government.

"Our organizations are united in this position and through our respective memberships, we will make this position known to our region's Heads of Government as they prepare to meet in Trinidad later this month at the Commonwealth He-ads of Government Meeting.

In the name of sport, and all its positive manifestations and community benefits, we say with one voice 'Let Fiji Play'.

Delhi Metro completed one billion rides

In its seven years of operation, Delhi Metro reached a historic landmark in November as it served its 1 billionth customer. In a press release, DMRC informed that the number of people who have availed Delhi Metro services till date touched a record 1,014,955,894 on 26-Nov.

DMRC is in expansion mode before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. New lines are going to be opened now every other month taking the Metro to south Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Airport. With progress being made as per plan, things have started falling into place for 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Also, Delhi Metro recorded its highest-ever single day ridership on 24-Nov during the India International Trade Fair (IITF). Over 1 million commuters used the services on a single day as compared to just 35,000 per day in Dec 2002 when Metro began its operations.

Delhi Metro has become a lifeline for the city and the ridership is far exceeding DMRC's own projections. For instance, 100,000 commuters are using the latest line opened till Noida as against the projection of about 53,000 commuters for 2012. This is resulting in crowding in trains but this is a great relief for people who travel on an average 30-40 km a day to go to Delhi and back.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials say that new trains are coming, and from now, a new train will be inducted into the system every fortnight. This is crucial for ensuring smooth commute for visitors during Commonwealth Games 2010.

Already, DMRC has got about 17 train sets of four coaches each for broad gauge and another 10 trains for standard gauge. The total order is for 131 trains which will all be delivered before 2010 end.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Commonwealth Games' baton scales Rock of Gibraltar

The Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi added the cable car to the different modes of transport on its journey across the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Games baton took a ride to ascend the famous Rock of Gibraltar on Thursday during its visit to the self-governing territory.

The relay started with Gibraltar's school children and athletes taking it on a relay walk. Minister for Sport Mr Edwin Reyes launched the walk at Victoria Stadium. Commonwealth Games Federation Vice President Mr. Ian Emmerson and Mr. Flower were also present.

Mr. Reyes emphasized the significance of the Queen's Baton's presence in Gibraltar. "We are a part of the Commonwealth family and the fact that it is here is hugely important. The fact that the baton relay comes to Gibraltar means she is playing her part as part of this large family," he said.

Mr Flower spoke of the importance of having the baton in Gibraltar. "It goes to all the countries of the Commonwealth, and it means that we are living the Commonwealth which is very important in this day and age. It is also important to make young people aware of the Commonwealth so that they now that we are involved too as members," he said.

Prospective Delhi 2010 athletes from swimming, athletics, shooting, tennis and hockey came together on the relay that was met at Casemates Square by the Gibraltar Re-enactment Society Group. The relay concluded at the House of Assembly where it was met by the Mayor of Gibraltar, Ms. Olga Zammit.

Zammitt spoke on behalf of the citizens of Gibraltar emphasizing that they are proud to be a part of the Commonwealth Games. "I hope all the participants enjoy the Games in the spirit of friendship, peace and harmony," she said. "These are the qualities that we cherish here in Gibraltar and they are prominent among the aims of the vibrant community of nations that make up the Commonwealth."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

India not to bid for 2020 Olympic Games

India will not bid for the Olympics in the near future even if it organizes a successful Commonwealth Games next year, sports minister Gill said on Wednesday.

Gill, speaking in parliament during a discussion on the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, said he was not in favor of the country looking further ahead towards hosting the Olympics as the gap between organizing Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games is quite big.

"Some of my colleagues (MPs) said casually that we should be bidding for Olympics. I'm not sure India should be," Gill said.

Gill did a reality check by asking fellow country men to consider poverty in India and infrastructure expenditure to host Olympic Games. He stressed that China spent $50 billion on last Olympics and highlighted that India is not yet ready for such a spend.

Indian sports officials have often spoken of wanting to bid for the Olympics as early as in 2020 and see a successful staging of the Commonwealth Games as the first step in that direction. Hosting Olympics still remain a dream to be pursued in distant future

Indian organizers and Commonwealth Games chiefs have tried to patch over differences after acrimony about New Delhi's readiness to host the 2010 event, India's biggest multi-sport event since the Asian Games in 1982.

Gill, a former federal chief election commissioner, assured MPs the infrastructure for the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games would be ready.

"The stadia will be completed in time," he said. "The government is investing substantial amount of money for the upgradation of various stadium to be used for the Games.

"These stadia will become state-of-the-art venues of international standards."

"The government of India and the organizing committee are fully committed to completing all preparations for the Games in good time," said Gill.

The Commonwealth Games will feature 71 nations and territories from the former British empire.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Lights ON at Commonwealth Games village

With power distribution utility BSES Yamuna and the developer of the Commonwealth Games Village resolving the issue of cost sharing for electrification, work on electrification of the Commonwealth Games Village is fast nearing completion.

After a long dispute, BSES Yamuna and Commonwealth Games 2010 Village developers Emaar MGF have agreed to share the cost of electrification equally. According to senior officials of BSES, the electrification work is expected to be completed by March 2010, much before the Commonwealth Games.

For several months, the two companies were at loggerheads over which party would bear the costs of electrification of the Games Village. The dispute was finally resolved in the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity. "We have reached an agreement to equally share the costs of electrification. The two companies will spend Rs 5 crore each for the work,'' revealed BSES Yamuna CEO Ramesh Narain.

There are 34 towers coming up in the Commonwealth Games 2010 village that will have a total of 1167 flats. The apartments are being constructed by the private construction company in a public-private partnership with Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Each of these luxury flats is said to cost between Rs 2-4 crore each. These flats will house the players as well as officials during the Commonwealth Games in October next year.

"The flats will have 24X7 power backup as the 15 MW Akshardham Grid is dedicated solely to cater to these flats. The cost of this grid, approximately Rs 26 crore, has been borne by DDA,'' said a senior BSES official.

BSES Yamuna is also working on electrification of eight upcoming super-luxury hotels in the area and three commercial districts. "We have received applications from these hotels and commercial centers and have asked them to release the payment immediately so that we can start the work,'' said Narain.

India to promote women and children safety

With an eye to the Commonwealth Games 2010, India will soon launch an initiative to create awareness about providing a safe and friendly environment to foreigners, especially women and children.

The initiative ‘Safe and Honorable Tourism’ will especially focus on creating awareness among various stakeholders, including taxi drivers, auto drivers and hotel staff.

The idea is to promote a safe environment for women and children, who will be coming to India during the Commonwealth Games next year.

The decision to launch the initiative was taken Monday at a meeting chaired by union Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee with the Indian chapter of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). "We will soon come out with an action plan for all service providers. This is one step through which we will be able to highlight that we believe in responsible and sustainable tourism,” the tourism official said.

“The code of conduct will be out in six months time,” he added.

“This kind of program will also add more value to the Incredible India campaign,” the official added. The Incredible India campaign which will get boost from 2010 Commonwealth Games, has earned accolades globally, showcases India’s beautiful holiday destinations.

The ministry will also rope in the National Commission for Women, the apex body that protects and promotes the interests of women in the country, on what kind of awareness and sensitization programs should be carried out.

Also, present at the meeting were representatives from the Save the Children, a leading child rights organization and United Nations on Drugs and Crime, a UN body fighting against illegal drugs.

Monday, 23 November 2009

84 cr budget for Commonwealth Games opening closing

The Concept and Theme for the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games Delhi, 2010 has been decided. The Theme and Concept for ceremonies is in advanced stage of finalization. This was stated by the Minister of State of Youth Affairs and Sports Pratik Patil in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The Minister further informed the House that the operation details are being developed by the Organizing Committee of CWG Delhi,2010. Rs.84 crores approximately has been earmarked for the two Ceremonies in the budget of the Organizing Committee for Commonwealth Games 2010. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) have advised that the program for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies needs to be finalized early. The Opening Ceremony is scheduled to be held on 3rd October 2010 and the Closing Ceremony on 14th October 2010. The program will be ready by April 2010.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Meet Tosha: Commonwealth Youth Games 2011 mascot

THE Manx cat mascot for the Commonwealth Youth Games 2011 will be called Tosha.The name was chosen after Islanders were invited to enter a competition to name the black Manx cat.

Tosha was the name suggested by Vicki Skellorn, of Ramsey, who wins the first ever mascot produced and a Commonwealth Youth Games and Department of Tourism and Leisure goody bag.

The name Tosha was chosen as it means "the first" in Manx Gaelic. Also, this is of significance because Isle of Man is going to be the first little nation to hold the Commonwealth Youth Games.

The Commonwealth Youth Games 2011 will take place from September 7 to 13 and will involve 71 nations of the Commonwealth.

Last Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Pune, India, where the mascot was a baseball cap-wearing tiger called Jigrr — an amalgam of the Hindi word Jigar, which implies courage, and the grrr of a tiger roar.

Tosha will be produced as cuddly soft toys, and possibly gifts such as keyrings and mugs in seven different designs — one for each of the Games' sporting events: athletics, badminton, boxing, gymnastics, rugby 7s, swimming and cycling.

The easily-recognizable cat, designed by Andrew Martin, will also appear on all the promotional material used in the lead-up to the games.

President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Michael Fennell, of Jamaica, and federation chief executive Michael Hooper, of New Zealand, met the pupils at Scoill Vallajeelt as part of a three-day fact-finding tour to the Isle of Man ahead of the 2011 games.

To teach pupils about the upcoming major athletic event, each of the Island's primary schools has adopted a Commonwealth country to learn about. Pupils from Manor Park Primary School (Jamaica), Cronk-y-Berry Primary School (New Zealand) and Scoill Vallajeelt (Nigeria) played host to the visitors, who spent some of the time telling them about their countries.

To prepare the Island for the youth games, the DTL is spending over £1m to improve the outdoor facilities at the NSC and plans to create a national stadium on the site of the Bowl are in the pipeline.

The main Games hotel will be The Sefton, on Central Promenade, Douglas, where the Commonwealth Games Federation executive will also be based.

The next Commonwealth Youth Games to be held after the Manx event will take place in 2015 and will be hosted by the Independent State of Samoa, a group of islands in the South Pacific.

National Cadets helping Commonwealth Games 2010

The National Cadet Corps (NCC) is preparing approximately 5000 cadets from various schools and colleges of the Capital to serve the nation during its most prestigious event, the Commonwealth Games 2010 (CWG).

NCC Director General, Lt General R. K. Karwal, lauded the volunteering services offered by the cadets on the eve of its 61st anniversary. He anticipated a prominent role of the NCC during the CWG as it did for the Asiad Games.

"We are continuously thriving towards contributing to the forthcoming grand event and are ready to provide the organizing committee as many cadets as they require. The committee is continuously in touch with us to fit our cadets in their plan. Their training mainly involves traffic control, crowd management and disaster management. They did a commendable job during the Sarojini Nagar blasts," said Lt. Gen Karwal.

The anniversary celebrations of the NCC went on for a week. It conducted 37 national integration camps and 6 special integration camps in different parts of the country.

"Such camps help develop respect and admiration for the vast cultural diversity of our country where the cadets are exposed to a common platform for interaction. This initiative will help train our cadets when a lot of foreign tourists would come in our country," said Lt. General.

The fourth Sunday of every November is celebrated as the NCC Day to commemorate the first ever function held by it on its inception. It was in November 1949 that the NCC held its first function with India's first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru presiding over it in Delhi.

"The NCC is the largest uniform youth organization in the world with 13 lakh cadets including three lakh girls, engaged in grooming the youths to make them socially aware," he added.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Commonwealth Games: Eves as undercover security agents

An estimated 5,000 trained private security girls are likely to provide intelligence cover to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, one of the biggest sporting events that India will host.

The Commonwealth Games venues may, apart from sportsmen and women, teem with security girls who are likely to act as “under-cover agents”, placed at strategic points as “ushers” and “guides”. The private eyes will cover all entry and exit points of stadia, as also nearby buildings, halls, rooms, restaurants and other facilities. The ingenuous move is still in the works, though a few meetings between the private security agencies, the Union Home and the Sports ministries have taken place.

The Commonwealth Games security team will compromise women from all linguistic backgrounds, and with suave and comely personalities who will be responsible for a dual preemptive and protective role,” said Singh, a former Intelligence Bureau officer who was appointed a security consultant for the 1982 Asiad.

While CCTVs will keep a watch on the movements of people entering the Commonwealth Games stadia, the security girls will play an undercover role to snoop on conversations around them. They have been instructed to pick up interesting nuggets of conversations that will help the authorities nip any mischievous activity in the bud.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Delhi amongst top 10 spots in BA list for 2010

British Airways has come out with list of top 10 destinations for 2010. Landmark sporting events such as the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will influence the travel calendar in 2010, according to British Airways.

A growing trend towards eco-tourism puts Stockholm on the map, while Istanbul is expected to be one of the most visited European destinations in recognition of its recent title of ‘European City Of Culture’.

BA head of UK and Ireland sales Richard Tams said: “Customers recognize that there’s a world of opportunity out there – from tiger safari in India, to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Nearly half a million supporters are expected to visit South Africa during the FIFA World Cup in June. With Cape Town home to stunning beaches, mountains, vineyards and the Cape Town Stadium, it’s sure to be a popular base for fans.

Sue Botes, BA commercial manager in South Africa, says: “Cape Town has always been a popular destination, we expect the World Cup to push it to the top of the long haul league table as the best place to be in 2010. We are already preparing for the event and have additional flights in place, as well as our local carrier Comair to connect fans to destinations around the republic.”

2. Istanbul

3. Las Vegas

4. Vancouver

5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

6. Dubrovnik

7. New York

8. Stockholm

Recently voted the best city in the world to live in, Stockholm has become the model city for others to follow. Europe’s epicenter of biodiversity and ecology will celebrate its official title of ‘European Green Capital’ in 2010, making it a popular choice for eco-tourists.

9. The Maldives

One of the hottest destinations for holiday makers and honeymooners in 2010. Collections of coral reefs boast unrivaled facilities for diving, while the picture postcard beaches offer chill-out bliss to the maximum.

10. Delhi

Thanks to the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, and growing trend for ‘tiger safari’, nearby destinations Bandhavgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kanha National Park provide another reason to get off the beaten track and visit Delhi in 2010. Judy Jarvis, BA regional commercial manager South Asia, said: "There has never been a better time to visit India. Next year marks two special occasions - 80 years of British Airways flying to India and the first time Delhi will host the Commonwealth Games. With 45 weekly flights to five destinations, we offer an unrivalled service."

Sunday, 15 November 2009

India's shame: Weighlifting federation faces a ban

The International Weightlifting Federation will meet at the world championships venue in South Korea this week to determine a sanction for India. The positive tests for six weightlifters in out-of-competition tests in September could result in another international ban for the national federation.

Country faces up to a four-year ban if three or more lifters return positive for banned substances in a calendar year. Even if India is only banned from international competition for a year, it would rule them out of weightlifting events at the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

India's sports minister has demanded an explanation and a public apology from the weightlifting federation for another doping scandal that could result in the host nation not having any lifters competing at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Sports Minister M.S. Gill said and had "brought shame to the country."

"The senior IWF officials owe an explanation to the country and express regret for the dope offense by the lifters," Gill said in a speech Monday, according to Press Trust of India. "They should take moral responsibility and do whatever to eliminate doping from weightlifting."

"If there is to be a ban so be it," Gill was quoted as saying. "The only thing is because of the lifters taking drugs, the country will have to suffer."

The Indian weightlifting team was barred from competing at the 2006 Asian Games after four competitors tested positive within a 12-month period.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Celebrate Englishness: CWG England Marketing director

Commonwealth Games England marketing director Duncan Lewis has called on the nation to celebrate its Englishness at Delhi 2010 in a bid to diversify Team England from London 2012.

With less than a year to go until Delhi 2010, Commonwealth Games England has recently been revamped with the appointment of a new board and the development of a new brand. The brand has been packaged with a rallying motto 'We Are England' with the intentions of attracting sponsorships and providing commercial potential to prospective investors.

The economic downturn, coupled with a rivalry, in terms of attracting sponsorship, with London 2012 ensures coming by sponsors is no easy task. But Commonwealth Games marketing director believes that Delhi 2010 will mark the gateway to Great Britain's golden generation of sporting events and insists the Commonwealth Games can capture the public's imagination.

And things are currently moving at quite a pace. A new board has been appointed and a new brand brought into place, which aims to encourage the country to celebrate England. There's a bit of a reticence in this country to do that. There sometimes seems a fine line between sporting patriotism and nationalism. But we see on occasions like the Ashes with the English cricket team that it can happen. It's very contemporary and inclusive if you consider how diverse the country is.

Preparations for next October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi have been tumultuous to say the least, with organizers calling for Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper to be sacked last month.

CGF president Mike Fennell has also advised Delhi 2010 organizers to accept international help to get preparations back on track but his words of wisdom have so far been ignored.

One of the best things about the Commonwealth Games for the English public is that they are guaranteed success, added Lewis. Of course there will be clashes and some athletes will not be able to compete but we're still going out there to win.

Take swimming for example. We want to prove we are competitive with the Aussies before London 2012.

Security is also a major problem on the sub-continent with England feeling forced to withdraw from the World Badminton Championships in Hyderabad earlier this year amid fears of a terrorist attack while the death toll in last November's attack in Mumbai reached 172.

We can only concern ourselves with things we can affect ourselves and that unfortunately is not one of them, he added.

But the recent trip by some of the board was very positive. Delhi 2010 is all part of a 2020 Olympic bid from India so they have a great deal riding on getting things right.

Scotland Yard to focus on 2010 Commonwealth Games security

Scotland Yard chief Paul Stephenson will meet Indian officials here Saturday to discuss extended co-operation between India and Britain in ensuring 2010 Commonwealth Games event free of terrorist incidents.

“Britain and India are engaged in counter-terror cooperation. Security of Commonwealth Games is our big focus area.” sources said here, while explaining the context of Stephenson’s visit.

Speaking in Mumbai at a seminar of security experts on ensuring “safe and resilient cities”, Stephenson Friday shared Britain’s experience in combating terrorism and a slew of preventive steps taken to avert terror attacks, specially in the aftermath of the July 7, 2005, terror attack on London.

“Terrorism is a challenge we must all confront if we are to protect our countries from fear and insecurity and, in taking on this challenge, we are safeguarding the most basic human right - the right of ordinary people to feel safe and go about their daily lives without fear,” he said at the conference.

Stephenson is the Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, the nodal agency responsible for policing within Greater London, which is also known as Scotland Yard.

He detailed out the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy, called CONTEST, which is deployed for providing comprehensive security across the UK. The CONTEST strategy, he explained, has four key elements: prevent, pursue, protect and prepare.

It includes the prevention of people becoming terrorists or supporting violence extremism; the active pursuit of terrorists engaged in planning attacks through investigation; the protection of the country against terrorist attack; and the need to prepare to respond to an attack that cannot be stopped to mitigate its impact.

India is keen to take notes from Scotland yard to ensure that Delhi Commonwealth Games are hosted smoothly without any security breach.

Agra and Mathura doorway ready before Commonwealth Games

Intending to make Yamuna Expressway a growth engine for all future development of the state, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued directives that the expressway be completed and open to traffic before the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Sticking to the time schedules, the concessionaire of the project Jaypee Infratech is working at neck breaking speed, having completed almost 80% of the earthwork and starting off with concreting from Noida end.

The expressway opens the doors to Mathura, for spiritual tourism and Agra to Commonwealth Games visitors. An official of the state government said lot of prestige is associated with the project as it will be the first infrastructure development project that would finally see the light of the day during the two-and-a half year reign of current government. In a way it would be the yardstick by other developers for investing in the state. The chief minister has many more ambitious plans for the state, all of which would either revolve around Yamuna Epressway or would be fostered by it. With land for the entire 165-km expressway already available with the developer, a massive workforce of around 10,000 people has been pumped in to work round the clock to complete the mega project. The total cost of the project is pegged at Rs 10000 crore.

The expressway, which will cross the five districts of Gautambudh Nagar, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras), Mathura and Agra, will have six interchanges from point zero at Noida. Apart from these interchanges, other structures like car tracks, pedestrian pathways, canals, bridges and underpasses are also being constructed simultaneously.

A senior official of the Yamuna Expressway Authority said a total of six toll plazas are being proposed. While there would be two each at Gautambudh Nagar and Mathura, Aligarh and Agra would have one toll plaza each.

The project, which is being constructed on build operate transfer PPP basis, will be maintained and operated by the concessionaire during the entire concession period of 36 years and after expiry of the concession period, it shall be handed over to the authority. An official of the company stated that the toll amount is being worked upon and no final shape has been given to it yet.

Farmers move to floriculture for Commonwealth Games

In view of the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games, farmers of North India have begun large-scale cultivation of flowers. Farmers hope to get good returns for their hard work. So sensing the significance of the events, the farmers are now moving towards floriculture and are accepting floriculture over traditional crops.

An increasing number of farmers are substituting traditional farming with flower cultivation. They are growing roses, marigolds and gebra.

In 2010, the Commonwealth Games will be held in Delhi for which we are getting prepared. The demand of flowers has gone high and many people including locals and tourists come here to buy flowers.

2010 Commonwealth Games will be India’s first major international sports event after the 1982 Asian Games. Delhi had bagged the games after beating the Canadian city Hamilton in the bid for rights to host the games.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Scotland looking for national anthem before Commonwealth Games

This one is for trivia freaks.. Scotland doesn't have a recognized national anthem and is looking for one before 2010 Commonwealth Games. Since 1958, Scotland the Brave has been played when Scots won gold.

The four shortlisted options are Scotland the Brave, Highland Cathedral, Flower of Scotland and Loch Lomond. They have been put on the list to be voted on at a Games dinner on 14 November.

Chairman, Michael Cavanagh, said: "At the Awards Dinner on Saturday night we will give our wider stakeholders the opportunity to have an input into this process.

Students from the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts Music and Drama will perform a shortlist of four options and at the end of the evening, guests will be asked to cast their vote. The top two anthem choices will be presented to prospective Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games team members at their Team Camp in January, where they will make the final choice of anthem to be played at the Games.

Mr Cavanagh added: "Hopefully, by the time we reach the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow there will be an official anthem that is nationally recognized and endorsed through our parliament and one that the whole of Scotland can unite behind on what will be a fabulous and memorable occasion for all Scots."

Flower of Scotland has been used by the Scotland national rugby union team and was first sung as the pre-match anthem during the 1990 Five Nations championship.

The Scottish Football Association then adopted Flower of Scotland as its official anthem in 1997, although it had been used by them in 1993.

Scotland, the Brave has been used since 1958 as the anthem for Scottish teams at the Commonwealth Games. In the 1982 and in the 1986 FIFA World Cup, the Scottish national football team used it as its anthem.

Highland Cathedral has become one of the best-known bagpipe tunes in the world, especially after being featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. It was chosen by Madonna to be played at her Highland wedding and has also been played alongside Flower of Scotland at rugby internationals.

Loch Lomond has been recorded by many performers over the years.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Commonwealth Baton goes underground :)

The Commonwealth Games Baton on Wednesday had its first experience of going underground when it visited Big Pit, a coal mine that houses the National Coal Museum of Wales in Blaenafon. The Commonwealth Games Baton's visit to the mine, 300 feet below ground, comes in the wake of being carried by a trapeze artist, suspended from a heliosphere in Twickenham last week.

Welsh rugby 7s captain Lee Beech, 10000m runner Simon Lawson, 400m hurdler Matt Elias, all of whom hope to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi, and Olympic 4x400m relay silver medalist Commonwealth veteran Jamie Baulch were the athletes chosen to carry the baton through some underground tunnels.

School children accompanied the elite athletes during the hour-long relay 300 feet below the ground. The baton travelled through some tunnels that form part of the last remaining deep mine in Wales.

The Commonwealth Games baton relay was started by the Mayor of Torfaen Cllr Bob Jones who has seen the arrival of the Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi as an opportunity for Big Pit and Blaenafon to take center-stage and showcase Wales' unique culture and geographic attributes to the world besides the values of the mining community.

Mine Manager Mr. Peter Walker was delighted Big Pit was a part of the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay 2010. Welsh coalfield communities have a great sporting tradition and it was fitting that the Queen's Baton should be run underground at the museum which is dedicated to telling the stories of these communities, he told the Big Pit's official website.

Later, the Queen's Baton visited the Treganna School here and saw that its students had prepared Indian flags to welcome it and went to the Cardiff High School during the inter school hockey tournament before making a stop at the Cardiff castle where Welsh rugby player Rhys Williams held it.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Commonwealth Games village to get its Metro today

Delhi Metro is all set to cross the boundaries of the national capital today and enter the adjoining Noida area of Uttar Pradesh. The ceremonial launch of the much awaited Noida corridor connecting Delhi with the National Capital Region will take place on Thursday.

The DMRC aims to add nearly 53,000 new passengers daily on this new route, which will be open for public use starting Nov 13. This line is extremely important from 2010 Commonwealth Games perspective as it crosses through Commonwealth Games village. Commissioning of the line is another feather in the cap of Delhi government and 2010 Commonwealth Games organizing committee as it shows the focus and commitment to prepare the infrastructure on time.

This is the first time a Metro train will formally cross the Delhi border and enter Noida, both CMs of Delhi and UP will be competing for honours as both have separate functions for the inauguration of the Noida line. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will flag off the first train from the station, while Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati will launch the first train from Noida.

Earlier, Minister for Urban Development S. Jaipal Reddy on Wednesday said that the Delhi Metro is the proudest achievement of modern India.

He further mentioned that the ministry has taken some important decisions relating to urban transport to help the daily commuters and ease traffic congestion.

Reddy was addressing the members of the consultative committee attached to the ministry of Urban Development, here on Wednesday to deliberate on the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Monday, 9 November 2009

Air Balloon ride for Queen's Baton at Twickenham

The Queen's Baton got its first experience of air travel when a trapeze artist, suspended from a heliosphere (air balloon) carried it around the packed Twickenham Stadium, venue of the England-Australia rugby international on Saturday. It was the last day of its stay in England during its epic journey.

After the trapeze artist held the baton and made the crowd hold its breath with her daredevilry, it was carried around the stadium by four English Rugby 7s players and received an enthusiastic reception from the 80,000 spectators.

Sgt Paul Davies of the 2nd battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusili held it when the teams lined up for the National Anthems. Earlier, before the crowd came into the stadium, the Australian players showed much curiosity in the baton that is a blend of hand-crafted design and modern technology.

Earlier, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II placed message to the athletes of the Commonwealth in the baton and handed it over to India's President Patil.

The baton has traveled to Manchester, Cannock, Sheffield, Droitwich, Birmingham, London and Newham where the venues for the Olympic Games 2012 are coming up before moving to Twickenham.

The baton is now due to move from England to Wales on its 190,000 km journey around the Commonwealth, spreading the message of the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi, the host city's majestic heritage and India's fascinating potential as a sporting, tourist and investment destination.

Delhi to host All Star meet before Commonwealth Games

Delhi will host an All Star meet in August next year that would also double up as a test event for the 2010 Commonwealth Games; newly re-elected Asian Athletics Association president Suresh Kalmadi said on Monday.

After he was re-elected unopposed for the third straight time as the AAA chief, Kalmadi said he would do everything to promote athletics in India.

"My re-election will definitely help promotion of athletics in India," he said.

On the future athletics events in India, Kalmadi said, "Pune has been allotted a Grand Prix in June and we would have an Asian All Star meet in Delhi on August 29-30. This will be a test event for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Kalmadi said he met International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) president Lamine Diack during the 18th AAA general body meeting here and had a fruitful discussion.

"For starters, we are going to have kid athletics at the school level," said Kalmadi, also chairman of the 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

Kalmadi was elected for another four-year term (2009-13) at the 18th General Body Meeting of the AAA here. He was first elected in Jakarta in 2008.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Making rooms for the games

Visitors to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi could find themselves short on accommodation. The authorities are trying alternative arrangements to increase supply ahead of the event.

There have been delays 
delays in approvals and permissions and it has become fairly evident that there is bound to be a shortage of rooms in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games.

This has led to backup measures with private residences being given permission to register single rooms as bed-and-breakfast accommodation. While not new, it was not profitable until the coming of the Commonwealth Games. Now that the system has been revived and officially ratified, it will continue at an organized level even after the Games. Home owners will have to renew their license every two years.

There has also been some speculation about farmhouses in the Delhi NCR region being mobilized as a stop gap accommodation measure. Requests by farmhouse owners to utilize their properties for this purpose have certainly been made. The provisions for the Bed & Breakfast scheme would extend to farmhouses, as well.

However, because of their location, and the fact that they have residential-use status only, this temporary semi-commercial utilization will not turn into a long-standing trend after the Commonwealth Games. These farmhouses are at the luxury end of the residential market, often with carefully maintained ambiance and infrastructure. Offering them up for long-term tourist use would not be a concept that would appeal to many of these farmhouse owners.

In the second place, most farmhouses in the Delhi NCR region are located in clusters around Mehrauli, Bijwasan, Rajokri and Chattarpur, which are far from strategically placed in terms of where the main Commonwealth Games action will be. As such, they would not present much of an advantage for visitors. Apart from the above measures, approximately 700 under-construction DDA flats coming up at Vasant Kunj and Rohini will be made ready to accommodate visitors.

Some of the 5-star hotels coming up for the Commonwealth Games are Crowne Plaza at Okhla Industrial area, Crowne Plaza at Mayur Vihar, Hilton (Piccadilly) at Janakpuri, Radisson Marina at Connaught Place and Hilton Convention Luxury Hotel at Dwarka, among others. The 5-star deluxe Leela Palace at Chanakyapuri is also in the pipeline. In the Gurgaon area, the 5-star supply includes Radisson Manesar and Frasers Serviced Apartments at Udyog Vihar. 5-star deluxe hotels include The Westin Gurgaon, The Oberoi, Four Seasons Gurgaon-DLF Golf Links and JW Marriott at Manesar. The 4-star hotels include Holiday Inn at Mayur Vihar, Novotel at Jhandewalan, Courtyard by Marriott, Park Plaza extension & Convention Centre and Park Inn. — Our Chennai Bureau.

Govt takes over Commonwealth Games preparations

The heat is on Suresh Kalmadi. Concerned over the state of progress of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Indian government has decided to virtually take charge. It has set up a three-member subcommittee to oversee all financial matters related to the event, thereby sidelining the high-profile Games Organising Committee chairman.

Just two days after the Union government released an enhanced budget of Rs 1,620 crore for the Games to the Organising Committee (OC), the sub- committee has been constituted to constantly monitor the expenditure. Sources said the sub- committee will comprise Dr M. Ramachandran, secretary, urban development; Sindhushree Khullar, secretary, sports; and Vilasini Ramachandran, additional secretary (expenditure), ministry of finance. These three are already executive committee members in the OC, but sources said the government felt the need for a finance committee to keep a check on any mismanagement at such a crucial stage of the preparations. The sources added that the move would seriously undermine Congress party MP Kalmadi's powers as the chairman of the Organizing Committee.

Since the time Kalmadi launched a scathing attack on Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper in October, government officials have been left red-faced; even the Prime Minister's Office was looking for a "peaceful solution" to the crisis.

It is learnt that sports minister MS Gill had called Fennell a few times to apprise him that the government was on the fast track to ensure things are in place and that they happen in the appropriate manner.

According to official sources, government has brought in officers with proven track record and brings with them the expertise to ensure that the OC functions like a well-oiled machine and will have no trouble in dealing with the CGF officials.

In addition, the Group of Ministers (GOM), headed by urban development minister Jaipal Reddy, has also started meeting regularly to take stock of the situation every fortnightly. To be sure, since the time Fennell expressed his displeasure at the functioning of the OC, the government was feeling acutely embarrassed. It was then decided they would get involved since the country's reputation and big money is at stake.

At a time when the entire world is watching Delhi with a lot of anticipation to deliver a good Commonwealth Games, the PMO's message is that no matter who is involved, at no cost should India's image be sullied.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

London idea: Double decker buses before Commonwealth Games

The commonwealth games, to be held next year has become boon for the national capital, as various departments and pumping funds for infrastructural development.

Delhi can expect to have its own hop-on-hop-off heritage tourist bus service modeled on the lines of the London counterpart. Delhi government has proposed to introduce specially designed double-decker buses, which will be run on tailor-made routes taking tourists not just to monuments but also museums, shopping venues, theater and even typical Indian weddings for the foreign clientele.

The buses will be luxury coaches with large window panes to enable a clear view of the city from every seat. To make them attractive, they will be painted in bright colors and the exteriors will be designed by professionals to reflect the character of the tours on offer. Every bus will have a guide on board to keep the visitors updated on the sites as they pass by.

In a joint collaboration between Delhi Tourism and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), the government is eager to introduce these buses before the Commonwealth Games kick off in October. But the service is not just aimed at the foreign tourists expected in Delhi during the Games. The government is also targeting the average Delhiite who can take a hop-on hop-off tour in place of going to a cinema or a restaurant, which officials said will also take away the burden of parking and planning. The routes are being chalked out by Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) and Shahjahanabad Development Corporation, and Intach will also provide trained guides and printed literature to be available on board.

The concept of hop-on-hop-off popular in European countries, has buses running on predefined routes at regular intervals. Tourists can choose a route and board any bus. They will have the option of getting off at a place of their interest on the way and have the choice of taking any of the later buses on the same route. The ticket will have day-long validity. ‘‘The idea came from a meeting on heritage sites and walks. Intach had suggested we should have these kind of buses specifically for tourists so that they can walk around sites and cover a larger number of heritage areas and other places of interest,’’ said chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.

New tourist attractions before 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games to boost tourismThe tourism department has started work on identifying themes for the tours and so far identified Mughal, Colonial, Independent India and Mehrauli area. Said Reena Ray, MD, Delhi Tourism: ‘‘DTC will provide the buses and we will take care of the tourist and culture part. Each tour will be a full day package with its share of monuments, shopping, and places of interest like Dilli Haat and then culminate with a theatre performance in the evening. There is even a suggestion to introduce a typical Indian wedding in the schedule for foreigners but the main focus will be heritage.

DTC, meanwhile, is scouting for the perfect double-decker bus for the service. Currently all the double-decker buses run on diesel, but Delhi is interested in a CNG variant. There are issues regarding where the cylinders will be accommodated in the bus design. Also, the model needs to suit Delhi's climatic conditions and dust in the city.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Commonwealth Games Federation and Queen praise QBR

Commonwealth Games Federation and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II have congratulated 2010 Delhi CWG Organizing Committee for the successful launch of the Queen's Baton Relay in London.

"It was both a colorful and impressive event and I know that it was enjoyed by all who took part. It was certainly a wonderful way for Her Majesty and India's president Patil to mark the end of the President's State Visit to the United Kingdom," the Queen said.

On Saturday, the Baton will travel to Twickenham, where England and Australia will play a rugby match before 60,000 spectators. The baton will then travel to Wales as part of its 190,000 kilometer journey.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

2010 Commonwealth Games funding doubled

India on Thursday more than doubled the budget for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi saying more money was needed for security as well as a successful delivery of the event. Till now, there has been widespread criticism of the delay by Indian organizers in creating infrastructure and facilities for the Games scheduled for October 2010.

The cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved a revised budget of 1620 crores (344 million dollars), more than a two-fold increase from the previously sanctioned 7.67 billion rupees (163 million dollars). This makes 2010 Commonwealth Games the most expensive Games ever.

The budgetary hike was to meet escalating costs, particularly of the opening and closing ceremonies of the games as well as the increase in the number of days for the Queen's Baton Relay.

The relay has been increased from its original plan of 136 to 240 days for international leg, and from 60 to 100 days within India.

"Inclusion of new items that are essential for the successful delivery of the Games but were not provided in the initial budget of the organizing committee, namely accreditation, city operations, sponsorship and TV rights, security, sustainability and environment and ticketing," she said.

The Commonwealth Games are world's third largest sporting spectacle after Olympics and Football world cup, and have 71 participating nations. They will be held in New Delhi from October 3-14, 2010.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

2010 Sports mega event and Tourism conference in SA

Travel and Tourism sector has emerged as one of the 21st century's critical drivers of economic growth, job creation, and development of communities, regions, and nations. The "Tourism Economy," a vital source of employment, revenue, investment, trade, and unity, has recently been recognized as a powerful stimulus for recovery from the global economic crisis.

As a reflection of the importance of the travel and tourism sector to unlock the growth potential of nations and the role of major sporting, business, and cultural events to re-inspire tourists to travel to global destinations, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UN WTO) and the South African Government announced on October 30, 2009 that the T&T world's first international Tourism, Sport, and Mega-events Summit will be held in Sandton, South Africa from February 24-26, 2010.

The summit will provide a forum for active discussion, debate, and direction around the leverage of mega-events as a vital force for sector growth and advancement in national development strategies.

A number of major global events will be held in 2010, including the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the Commonwealth Games in India, the World Exhibition in Shanghai, and the Winter Games in Canada.

With this taken into consideration, the UNWTO seeks to align the global Travel and tourism sector's leadership to create a framework for leveraging sport and other mega-events (including cultural and entertainment events, exhibitions, and business conventions) for economic growth. This process must take into account the economic, social, and environmental consequences for host nations and the massive multimedia opportunities for nation branding and export promotion.

South Africa's Department of Tourism and Department of Sport, as well as CNN International as a global media partner, will be working in partnership with the UN WTO.

As stated by Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN WTO: "This important meeting reflects the increasing economic and social impacts of sport, mega-events, and tourism. It will establish new lines of thinking on operations, economics, and sustainability. We are delighted to be working with South Africa - particularly in 2010 which will see a great sporting mega-event in the FIFA World Cup, which promises so much for Africa."

The summit will be held parallel to the annual Meetings Africa, Africa's top business tourism exhibition hosted annually by South African Tourism.

Commonwealth Games security arrangement: Beat this.!!

As Commonwealth member countries raise doubts about security for the 2010 Games, the Organising Committee is busy working on a foolproof ticketing system. Delhi government is determined to show that they are serious about security of participants and the audience.

Security arrangements to ensure tourist safety during 2010 Delhi Commonwealth GamesIn the latest move, the organizing committee informed that all tickets will carry a barcode. The barcode will have information including stand and seat. Also, the Delhi Police will have the photograph of each person watching the game and his exact seat in the stadium.

When the spectator enters the stadium, security cameras will record his photograph. The photo will be stored along with the information in the barcode.

“It is a foolproof system, by which we will know exactly where a person is sitting in the stadium and what time he left the venue,” said Sujit Panigrahi, Additional Director General, Technology, of the Organising Committee.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Commonwealth Games baton reaches Manchester city

Athletes and civic dignitaries gathered at the City of Manchester Stadium to take hold of the Queen's baton as it is relayed around the world for next year's Commonwealth Games in India.

The baton will travel more than 100,000 miles and will pass through 70 Commonwealth countries on its journey to Delhi for the games next October.

It was welcomed back to Manchester outside the stadium that hosted the games in 2002 by a host of athletes including Chris Newton from the Great Britain Cycling Team, the 400m runner Andrew Steele and squash player Laura Massaro.

Emerging athlete Shauna Thompson and Manchester's lord mayor Alison Firth also greeted the baton on behalf of the city.

The baton will be carried across the globe for 240 days before being taken on a 100-day, 118,000-mile tour of India. It will be carried to the capital cities of India's 28 states.

When it finally enters the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, the baton will be one of the longest relays in the games' history.

The Queen's baton relays have been a curtain raiser to every games since Cardiff in 1958.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

CWG 2010: Pollution watch

Pollution in Delhi is a big concern for organizers of Commonwealth Games

Despite all the efforts by authorities who are working overtime to make the capital cleaner and greener before the Commonwealth Games, the high levels of air pollution in the city might be a cause of discomfort to the visiting athletes.

With massive construction activities as a build-up to the 2010 sporting event, the city air is getting more and more polluted which the sport persons from many Commonwealth countries might find uncomfortable, according to health experts.

"Athletes, who breathe deeper and longer, can find themselves very uncomfortable. Higher level of suspended material could increase their stress level, and in turn affect their performance," said Dr A K Sood, senior health expert at Rockland Hospitals.

With Delhi government trying to advertise the games as 'GREEN' games, pollution poses a big challenge. Also, more troublesome is the fact that its SPM which immediately hinders with the respiration is at the most dangerous level. It is to be seen whether pollution actually impacts the performance of start like Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis if they make an appearance.

Archives: November 2009

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