Thursday, 31 December 2009

Shera spreading happiness during festive season

Shera, the mascot of the Commonwealth Games-2010, visited Gurgaon malls on Wednesday, spreading smiles and encouraging people to be a part of next year's games.

Shera distributed chocolates and merrily mingled with curious shoppers, shaking hands and posing for a quick snap.

People shared their opinions freely and mentioned that it's good if Shera roams around and meets more people. There are few months left for the Commonwealth Games and this is a good way to promote the event. Everyone should know that India is hosting such a grand event and the preparations are in full swing. Delhiites are looking forward to the event.

"We have taken Shera to the common man. The exercise is to promote a sense of ownership amongst the people of India and the youth. The kind of response Shera is getting from the children and adults is good. Commonwealth Games is for the common people," said one of the organisers.

The Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi will be India's first major international sports event after the 1982 Asian Games.

Delhi bagged the Commonwealth Games after beating the Canadian city Hamilton in the bid for rights to host the games to be held between October 3 and 14 next year.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Commonwealth Games mascot Shera plays Santa

Shera, the mascot of the Commonwealth Games-2010, was the centre of attraction at a public event to hail Christmas at the St. Mary's Orthodox Church in Delhi. Amidst the ambience of fun, cheer and happiness, Shera spread the message of amity, joy and belonging in the true spirit of the Commonwealth Games and called upon everyone to come forth and become an integral part of the games.

Shera ushered in a lot of cheer to those gathered at the church located in south Delhi's Hauz Khas area and lit up the faces of all children present on the occasion apart from freely mingling with one and all. Children were delighted to get goody bags containing gifts and candies from Shera. He sang and danced, wishing everyone 'Merry Christmas'.
In response, all those present, including Kiran Walia, Delhi's Health Minister, applauded Shera, who was the surprise guest of the day.

"When Shera steps ahead, it implies there will be a change for better in health facilities, our civic problems...our roads will be better, our flyovers will be better and we'll live happily together. Commonwealth Games has been successful only in those places where everybody had worked together with a team spirit," Walia added.
The Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi will be India's first major international sports event after the 1982 Asian Games.
Delhi bagged the Commonwealth Games after beating the Canadian city Hamilton in the bid for rights to host the games to be held between October 3 and 14 next year.

Fire @ Commonwealth Games Rugby venue

A fire broke out late last night at the rugby stadium under construction for next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The blaze had started in the venue seats and taken almost two hours to extinguish but no casualties were reported.

A spokesman for the fire brigade said: "PVC sheet was being laid when the fire broke out where welding work was in progress."

After the fire was reported at the under construction Rugby stadium around 7 pm, six fire engines were rushed to the spot. The fire was controlled by around 9:15 p.m. The extent of the damage was not immediately known but the officials confirmed that this will not delay the preparation schedule for 2010 Commonwealth Games venue.

The site was cordoned off by private security guards deployed by Gammon India, which is constructing the stadium. The under-construction stadium at Hindu College in Delhi University will host rugby sevens matches during the Commonwealth Games, which are due to begin on October 3, 2010.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Little girl to civilize Delhi

Delhi’s citizens are about to be introduced to a range of civic awareness messages over the next 10 months, right up to the Commonwealth Games in October 2010. A wide-ranging advertising campaign, ‘Come on Dilli’, with the messages delivered by a new city mascot — a cartoon-drawn, seven-year-old girl named Delhi ki Beti has begun to dot Delhi’s billboards since December 12.

India’s Capital will play host to athletes from 71 nations at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The Delhi government feels that in addition to providing world-class infrastructure and facilities for the event, it is also critical that Delhi’s people come together as hospitable hosts.

To instill that sense of hospitality, pride, care and concern for the city, it decided to undertake a public communication exercise. The ‘Civility Campaign’ has started with the outdoor media and will move on to radio, print and television.

The messages point to a greater range of civic awareness building than what may typically be required for just the Commonwealth Games. The use of solar power or the rejection of the use of plastic bags are some other examples of wide range of issues this campaign aims to address.

Other issues such as pollution, car pooling, using the cellphone while driving, breaking traffic signals and defacing heritage sites are covered through messages that use English and Hindi, English nursery rhyme lines and even references to legendary poet, Ghalib.

Building pride in the city’s heritage is seen as a unifying factor since a significant number of Delhi’s residents have come in from other parts of the country.

Cartoon animals have been used in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner.

The youth who’s taken a toss off his motorbike because he jumped a red light is a monkey; the person defacing a heritage building’s wall is a rat; the chap chatting on his mobile phone while driving is an owl.

The idea is to convey, in a dignified manner, that the people with such attitude are not behaving like civilized humans.

While it is tempting to compare Delhi ki Beti with the Amul girl who also delivers sharp, witty social messages, Sen preferred that the two not be compared, saying the Amul property has been built over time.

The campaign’s budget is rumoured to be in the range of Rs 100 crore but there is no official confirmation on the figure. PK Tripathi, principal secretary in the chief minister’s office, said there was no fixed budget.

“We will intensify the campaign over the next few months and will release money depending on the various media used for it. The three-phased campaign will progress from ‘inform and inspire’ to ‘involve’ messages, to culminate with ‘hospitality’ statements

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Govt seeks legal opinion on CWG telecast contract

The contract between public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and UK-based SIS Live for television coverage of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 has now been referred to solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam. In addition to this, I&B ministry has written to the Central vigilance commissioner Pratyush Sinha on the coverage of the games and the tendering process for selection of the broadcaster. I&B secretary Raghu Menon's recent letter to Sinha, elaborating on the tender process, is being seen as a cautious step to ward-off controversies on a later date regarding 2010 Commonwealth Games telecast rights.

SIS wanted certain changes in its contract with Prasar Bharati, and that resulted in difference of opinion between the finance wing of the broadcaster and the Doordarshan Directorate. Subsequently, a decision was taken to seek the advice of the solicitor general.

SIS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Satellite Information Services (Holdings) Ltd and is owned by a combination of leisure and financial investors, according to the company website. It's into TV production, broadcasting and providing live pictures and data via satellite. It also supplies TV programming and data services to the UK and Ireland betting industry.

After a tender process earlier this year, in which at least 10 players participated, five were shortlisted. Finally, SIS Live of the UK was selected for production and coverage of the Delhi Commonwealth Games for Rs 246 crore.

Officials in the I&B ministry said that since Prasar Bharati does not have the expertise to conduct an international event in the high-definition television (HDTV) format, production and coverage of the games had been outsourced.

An empowered committee comprising top officials of Doordarshan and All India Radio selected the broadcaster.

Among other bidders shortlisted for producing the games coverage were ADAG group's Big Products in consortium with Inter Public Marketing Services Shanghai and Tokyo Broadcasting Systems.

Commonwealth Games baton reaches Cameroon

Cameroon celebrates the arrival of the Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi to the people during a long function on the iconic 20 May Boulevard on Tuesday, getting sports persons, officials and cultural groups to take part in the relay. The 20 May Boulevard is the site for the all National level events - especially the National Day parade.

National long distance runner Nyagme was the first Batonbearer. He was joined by young children of Indian origin, holding Indian flags. Thereafter, the baton was carried by sportspersons including National 42km and 21km roller skating champion Frujenes, Water Tangie and artistic roller champion Jules Ngede, before it reached the ceremonial area at the Yaounde City Council ground.

Minister of Sports and Physical Education Mr. Micheal Zoa, was present along with officials and cultural groups from different communities. He formally welcomed the baton to Cameroon and thanked the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi for taking the relay to his country. A cultural presentation by various ethnic groups showcased Cameroon's multi-cultural tradition.

Later, the baton visited to the officer of the Cameroon Commonwealth Games Council where its President Col Hamad Kalkaba Malboum made a short presentation. It was then the turn of the Minister delegate for Commonwealth Mr. Dion Ngute to host the baton in his office.

At a dinner organised by Cameroon Commonwealth Games Council Minister for Youth Mr. Adoum Garoua, Mr Dion Ngute, Deputy High Commissioner of Britain to Cameroon Mr. Timothy Fisher and Consul General of India in Cameroon Mr J Ravi Kumar.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Delhi govt: Finish work or be blacklisted

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday threatened that Delhi government would blacklist contractors who fail to complete Commonwealth Games projects on time. This comes two days after Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell expressed disappointment over delays reported in the completion in some Games venues.

While Fennell had on Saturday referred to delays in the construction of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which is also the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, and the SPM swimming pool complex, Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi claimed that the onus of completing projects lies with the respective agencies involved, besides the state government.

“We cannot afford to let down our nation and are committed to making the Games a grand success,” Diskhit told officers from the Delhi government during today’s annual meet. “The government will not listen to any excuses for delay in completion of projects; contractors responsible for these delays will be blacklisted, apart from other contractual actions (being taken) against them.”

Setting the sports event to be held next October as a priority for the government for the next eight months, Dikshit directed departments such as the PWD, Delhi Jal Board, the power distribution companies (discoms), and the Transport department to take measures to finish projects related to the event. She asked the agencies to work “in tandem” and avoid confusion and duplication of work.

Referring to the civility campaign about courtesy, civic sense and manners, launched by the government recently, Dikshit said: “As host city, we have to work together to make the Games a memorable event, which has provided (the government) an excellent opportunity to take up enormous projects simultaneously.”

Australia's first list for Commonwealth Games

World champions Steve Hooker and Dani Samuels will spearhead the Australian athletics team's charge on the 2010 Commonwealth Games after the two world title-holders were provisionally nominated alongside six fellow stars of track and field in the Delhi-bound team.

World championship gold medallists Hooker (pole vault) and Samuels (discus throw) are joined on the list of Round 1 nominations for the Australian team by Berlin World Championship bronze medal winner Mitchell Watt (long jump), fellow long jumper Fabrice Lapierre, Olympic medallists Sally McLellan (100m hurdles) and Jared Tallent (20km walk), marathon athlete Lisa Weightman and Collis Birmingham( 10000m).

Athletics Australia's High Performance strategy to send a large squad to the Commonwealth Games in 2010 teamed with the current high standard of athletics in Australia and the depth of domestic talent means almost 100 athletes look set to book a ticket to Delhi by the end of the upcoming season.

The eighth athlete to be nominated, Collis Birmingham, met the automatic selection criteria following his A-qualifying performance and national title win at the Zatopek:10 at Melbourne Olympic Park on December 10.

To confirm their selection in the Commonwealth Games team all athletes (marathon representatives excluded) must perform to at least the B-qualifying standard by the close of the national championships on April 18 unless granted exemption by Athletics Australia.

Athletics Australia will look to send its largest athletics team ever to contest a major overseas meet to next year's 19th edition of the Games, with over 100 athletes expected to be given a call-up to the squad.

Athletics Australia High Performance manager Eric Hollingsworth said, "We'll be taking away the biggest team ever to leave these shores."

He added: "Essentially it encourages everyone to have a go, the standards are within reach of a wide range of athletes and one of the key things we want to emphasise is that we want to take as many athletes as we can to the Commonwealth Games to finalise Athletics Australia's High Performance identification process."

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Sports minister M S Gill optimistic despite delay concerns

Sports Minister MS Gill today claimed that the organisers for Commonwealth Games were trying to make up for the time that was lost due to the late start of the project work but assured that all the venues will be ready well in time.

Only yesterday, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief Mike Fennell claimed that he was disappointed that some of the venues, including the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium which is to host the opening ceremony for the October 3-14 Games, will not be ready until June next year.

'Whatever time has been lost since 2003, we are trying to make up for that,' Gill told mediapersons here.

'Fennell has said it again and again that a lot of progress has been made of late and we are doing the catching up job,' he added.

Gill further lavished praise on the engineers for their dedicated support round the clock.

'The engineers are working hard, give them some credit. The workers from Bihar, Orissa, Bengal are also working hard and it's these people who are putting up the game and not me.

'God willing, I am sure we will get there in good time,' Gill said after his meeting with the Group of Ministers today.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit too admitted that she was a little 'nervous' but said she was confident as well that the national capital will deliver successful Games.

'I am not feeling comfortable. I'm rather nervous, but I think we can do it,' Dixit said.

Commonwealth Games prep delay distressing: CGF

Michael Fennell, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation has expressed disappointment over preparations for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and said that further delays in venue construction and stadium are "distressing".

Fennell mentioned that Coordination Committee report specifically talks about delay in venue preparations, and specifically the delays to the Nehru Stadium and the swimming complex. Both the projects are running far behind the schedule.

Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee has continuously sent out assurances on the delivery timeline of these projects. However, the same is not backed by action. Instead, there has been a shift in focus to infrastructure development in Delhi which actually is NOT focus area for Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee. The achievements of central and Delhi government are shown to cover for the delays in 2010 Commonwealth Games preparations.

On the issue of security, Fennell said: " I have viewed security matter and we are satisfied that all that could be asked is being done for the security and we have assured our members and through them their athletes that the best security arrangements possible will be put in place."

The Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi will be India's first major international sports event after the 1982 Asian Games.

New Delhi hosted the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 and again in 1982. The Games to be held between October 3 and 14 next year.

Delhi invites Universities for Commonwealth Games

The government is inviting all students from Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi Technological University (DTU), Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology (NSIT), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) to join the Commonwealth Games workforce and volunteer to serve thousands of visitors coming from all over the world to India. The students are invited to join the "Delhi United" campaign aimed at enrolling volunteers for 2010 Commonwealth Games.

"The visitors will be interested in knowing Delhi's rich history and culture. To make their task easier and make them feel at home, we need self-motivated, helpful, energetic and confident people," said an official press release from the Government.

In order to be easily accessible to students the Directorate of Information and Publicity has provided them with a platform to register themselves by visiting the nearest university or college registration centre with four coloured photographs (size 45mm X 35 mm).

The prestigious event is also getting a helping hand from the National Cadet Corps (NCC) which is preparing approximately 5000 cadets from various schools and colleges of the Capital to serve the nation.

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.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Additional people to speed up Commonwealth Games preps

The apprehensions regarding the progress of work not withstanding, the Indian government insisted that the venues for next year's Commonwealth Games would be completed on time by deploying additional machinery and increasing the number of supervisory staff. Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Prakashbapu Patil said the progress of work was being monitored closely.

"The work on all the Commonwealth Games competition venues is progressing at a rapid pace, recovery plans have been worked out, wherever required, which inter-alia, includes increase in the number of supervisory staff and labour, increase in working hours, deployment of additional machinery, close monitoring and procurement of critical and special items, to compete the work within the revised targets," Patil said.

The Minister's assurance comes a day after the Commonwealth Games Federation's Coordination Commission, expressed concern about the extension of timetable for venues' completion.

The CGF Commission, which concluded its three-day inspection tour, said further delays would put the Organising Committee in a difficult position and "compromise final preparations and Games' readiness."

"We urge the construction agencies to ensure that no further delays are encountered, as this will place the OC in a difficult position and compromise final preparations and Games readiness," Chairman of the Commission Austin Sealy had said in a statement.

The Minister also admitted that shortage of hotels
in the capital was a concern but said the city would be well-equipped to handle the influx of foreign tourists when the multi-discipline event is held from October 3 to 14 next year.

"Government of India has assessed that approximately 40,000 rooms under categories in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) would be required to meet the demand of the Commonwealth Games 2010.

"In order to address the shortage of hotel rooms in the Delhi NCR for the Games, hotel projects are being implemented by various agencies in National Capital territory of Delhi and states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh which are being monitored regularly by the Ministry of Tourism
through the task force set up for this purpose," he said.

Gurgaon to verify licensed arms

If you stay in Gurgaon and have a licensed firearm, get ready to deposit it with the police.

Staring Friday, station house officers (SHOs) of all 23 police stations in Gurgaon will start a verification drive of armed licenses issued so far.

All licensed weapons in Gurgaon will have to be deposited in police stations by March 31, about six months before the start of the Commonwealth Games next year.

Owners of licensed weapons would have to start depositing their arms between March 1 and 31 next year after the licence verification drive ended, said joint police commissioner Alok Mittal. The JCP on Thursday issued orders to the deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) of east, west and South zones in this regard. Gurgaon has over 5000 arms license holders.

"We have received a communication from the Union Ministry of Home, asking us to get all the licensed arms deposited in police stations in Gurgaon at least six months before the start of Commonwealth Games next year. I have directed the DCPs of all three zones to start the exercise from Friday only and further direct their SHOs for the same," Mittal said.

Gurgaon is likely to host a couple of events such as shooting at the CRPF shooting range in Bhondsi village just off Sohna Road. Thousands of domestic and foreign guests are likely to board hostels and guesthouses in Gurgaon.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

CGF not happy with preparations

A Commonwealth Games Federation official has warned that progress in infrastructure for the 2010 Commonwealth Games should not disguise ongoing concerns about slow preparations and lapsed deadlines.

The CGG co-ordination commission, chaired by Austin Sealy, is currently visiting New Delhi and received presentations from Indian officials on building progress and implementing Games operations. Sealy also visited all competition venues before issuing a statement Wednesday.

"There has been noticeable progress over the last two months, however, with effectively only nine months remaining, the intensity must continue, and in fact, works must be further accelerated," Sealy said.

"We urge the construction agencies to ensure that no further delays are encountered as this will place the Commonwealth Games OC (Organizing Committee) in a difficult position and compromise final preparations and games readiness."

India will host the event Oct. 3-14 next year, featuring 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. It hoped that the Games would enhance its credentials to host even bigger events, maybe even the Olympics.

"There was a sense of energy and urgency from Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the OC, and the entire New Delhi team about getting on with the job, which is a positive, and it is clear that everyone is committed to making these Games a success," Sealy said.

He said the commission was concerned that the timetable for venue completion had, in most cases, been extended by at least three months since the September deadline, and, in some cases, it seemed venues would not be handed over to the OC until June.

He urged the construction agencies to ensure that there were no further delays.

The four-member commission was expanded by three members for the visit, adding representatives from Australia, Wales and South Africa. It will now report to the CGF and the Organizing Committee.

The CGF president Michael Fennell will visit New Delhi on Friday for meetings with Organizing Committee members to discuss concerns raised by the commission.

New Delhi won the Games over a bid from Hamilton.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Commonwealth Games campaign urges Delhi to improve

Colourful and chirpy - a new campaign that urges Delhiites to have a sense of ownership for the city by keeping it clean and observing traffic rules, among others, has been initiated by the Delhi government in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

With its messages splashed across bus stops and other public places, the campaign aims to imrpove civic sense in the capital’s residents.

Messages like respecting women, observing traffic rules, not defacing monuments and not spitting in public places are sent across through quick witted and colourful ads. The campaign was started on 12-Dec to ensure that some of the basic civil issues are addressed before 2010 Commonwealth Games.

For instance, one message reads “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, agar traffic rules follow nahi kiya, to hoga bura haal,” which means you will suffer if traffic rules are not observed.

Harish Arora, the executive creative director of the campaign said: “‘Come on Delhi’ is a clarion call to citizens, telling them that it’s time to improve. It seeks to invoke in civilians a sense of ownership of the city’s state-of-the-art infrastructure, facilities, services and heritage landmarks, ensuring that they use it with care and concern.”

CWG 2010: Nigeria aims to be best from Africa

Even as preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi are yet to commence, Sports Minister and chairman of Nigerian National Sports Commission, Sani Ndanusa said Nigeria will post the best performance by Africa nations at the Games.

Ndannusa made the charge while unfolding plans to host the Queen’s Baton Relay team between December 18 and 20 in Abuja and Lagos, Engineer Ndanusa said the country would feature athletics, boxing, elite athletes for disabled, wrestling, weightlifting and table tennis he considered the country’s strong holds at the New Delhi games. In total, Nigeria will be competing in 7 events.

“ Nigeria has taken part in eleven Commonwealth Games and won medals with the highest number being in 1994 when they won 37 medals in Victoria, Canada. In New Delhi Games, Nigeria ’s target is to post the best African performance in the Games.

Towards this end, efforts are in top gear to ensure that Nigerian athletes are adequately prepared for the challenge”, Sani Ndanusa declared yesterday.

He however, stated that the NSC is currently operating open camp, and would start close camping from February with notable athletes to be listed for major international championship as part of their preparations.

“It is significant to note that Nigeria ’s zeal to align with other Commonwealth nations to promote friendship and peace through sports is not in doubt.

“As we prepare to celebrate the Queen’s Baton relay on tour of Abuja and Lagos, it is pertinent to remind ourselves that this will be the third time that the baton will be hosted in Nigeria .

It was first hosted in 2001, before the Manchester Games and then in 2006 before the Melbourne event”.

Indian visa regulations impact tourists

Within the past few months, the Government of India has implemented new regulations which severely restrict the movements of people wishing to complete multiple entries into India on a Tourist visa.

Initial information from the Government of India indicated that revised visa regulations would primarily affect travelers with tourist visas who had been in India for more than 90 days before travel abroad or more than 180 days in the past year. However, the U.S. Mission has received confirmation that foreign passports are now stamped on exit to indicate that the bearer cannot re-enter India within two months of exit unless special permission is obtained from an Indian Embassy, Consulate, or High Commission abroad, regardless of the validity of visa or length of stay in India. Travelers have reported being denied re-entry after exiting India for business or family emergencies, or for tourist travel to nearby countries, even if their initial visit to India was for only a few days. Prior guidance and procedures that allowed re-entry to India after stays of up to 180 days are no longer in effect.

Apparently now these regulations are being inconsistently applied, and people with various kinds of visas, including business visas, are having serious issues. The same Warden's message relates the story of a woman who tried to depart India on her tourist visa after a one week stay. She was told to go to the Foreigner's Registration Office and register, even though her passport had been clearly stamped on entry: “Registration not required if stay is less than 14 days.” There are other stories of other families and individuals being refused re-entry on shaky grounds.
I can see where the Indian government might want to close a loophole which would allow tourists who posses long term, multiple entry tourist visas from essentially living in India by simply leaving the country every 180 days. But this kind of haphazard and ham-handed approach to implementing new regulations does not help anyone.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Queen's Baton reaches Ghana

The Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi arrived to a warm welcome in Accra on Tuesday. Commonwealth Games Baton is generating enormous interest in the local media and amongst the people of Ghana. The baton has now completed 18710 kms of international travel and arrived from Gambia.

The High Commissioner of India in Ghana Mrs. Ruchi Ghanashyam and her colleague Mr Rajkumar Thakur as well as officials of the Ghana Commonwealth Games Council received the baton at the Accra Airport where it arrived from Banjul in the Gambia.

Commonwealth Games Federation African region Vice President Mr. Abdoulie M Touray, who travelled with the baton from the Gambia handed it over to Ghana Commonwealth Games Council President Mr. B T Baba at a press conference where the journalists were acquainted with the blend of Indian tradition and modern technology in the Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi.

The baton was received in the British High Commission by Deputy High Commissisoner Mr Matthew Johnson and wished India all success in hosting a wonderful Games next year. Australian High Commissioner Mr. William Williams, who helped organise the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 said he loved the design and technological features of the baton.

At the High Commission of India in Ghana, Mrs Ghanashyam was happy to receive the baton again. She assigned her colleague Mr Thakur to be with baton for the duration of its stay in Ghana. The Queen's Baton 2010 Delhi will spend the next two days in Ghana before it heads to Nigeria.

Britain downgrades Commonwealth Games priority

Britain has effectively downgraded next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi to a development event after UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee explained that his main focus in 2010 will be on the European Championships in Barcelona, while Britain continues to prepare for 2012 London Olympics.

This may lead to other countries giving option to their atheletes to opt out of the Commonwealth Games.

The qualifying standards for European Championships, due to take place in the Montjuic Stadium, which hosted the 1992 Olympics, will be the same as those used for this year's World Championships in Berlin. British team won two gold medals, two silver and two bronze.

"We are looking for contenders, not pretenders."

The Dutchman claimed the Commonwealth Games, which takes take in New Delhi in October, would provide up-and-coming athletes with the chance to impress. He said: "This year's Commonwealth Games presents an opportunity to athletes just outside UKA's European Championships criteria which will ensure developing athletes are given high quality competition at an international level."

A number of Britain's top athletes, including world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis, have already announced that they will not compete at the Commonwealth Games.

Like many other top competitors, she fears picking up a stomach bug and also believes that the scheduling of the event, which is not due to start until October 3 2010, will cost them valuable time in beginning preparations for the 2011 World Championships, which will be held in Daegu, South Korea, the following August.

Ennis was joined yesterday by Kelly Sotherton, who announced that she would not be defending the heptathlon title she won in Melbourne in 2006 and that she expected to be joined by Phillips Idowu, the world triple jump champion.

But Ennis, Idowu and Sotherton have all already said that the European Championships will be their main priorities in 2010 as they seek their first gold medals in the event.

Commonwealth Games volunteer program

Delhi showed its continuing enthusiasm for ‘Delhi United', the Volunteer Programme of the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi when visitors in large numbers showed their interest to register for the programme on Sunday at the I.C.S/ I.A.S Wives Association (IASOWA) Winter Carnival at Nehru Park, New Delhi.

(CLICK HERE: Volunteer training begins at Amity Campus)
Ms. Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, inaugurated the carnival and visited the Delhi United stalls where she met Shera, the mascot of Delhi 2010 and interacted with officials of the Games. She showed keen interest in the Volunteer Programme

The Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (OC CWG Delhi 2010) had set up two stalls with computer terminals to facilitate registrations for 'Delhi United'.

Frequently asked questions about Commonwealth Games volunteer registration.

OC CWG Delhi 2010 aims to make 'Delhi United' accessible to as many people as possible and to get people to register for this program. 'Delhi United' was launched by the OC CWG Delhi 2010 at its headquarters on 4 December 2009.

'Delhi United' aims to recruit 30,000 volunteers who will be the face of the Games and will actively support various functional areas at the Games next year. Delhi United aims to encourage every citizen, regardless of age, religion and occupation to participate in making the Games the best ever. Delhi United will leave behind an invaluable legacy of trained technical and non-technical volunteers. It will offer the volunteers an opportunity to gain invaluable skills, enhance their interest in and knowledge of Olympic sports, work with an international team of experts and build lasting friendships with people from across the world.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Commonwealth Games TV rights fetch $60 million

The 2010 Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee on Friday said they have sure commitment of US $60 million revenue from television rights.

The Commonwealth Organizing Committee in a statement mentioned that they had predicted a revenue of $40 million from selling television rights, but they have already managed $60 million.

"We have crossed our target and we are going to touch $60 million by selling television rights. We have struck a good deal with broadcasters in Australia and Britain by sorting out the timing of the disciplines which are popular in these countries," Kalmadi said.

Earlier in a report, government of India indicated that Commonwealth Games will be revenue-neutral event and may make slight profit as well. The 2010 Commmonwealth Games Organizing committee is confident that they can repay $2.6 billion aide that it has got from the government.

Four major revenue streams for 2010 CWG will be through sponsorship, TV rights, merchandising and ticket sales.

Archives: December 2009

Click here for list of articles published in November 2009.

Trinidad and Tobago to bid for 2018 CWG

Trinidad and Tobago has expressed interest in bidding for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Trinidad and Tobago joins Gold Coast city, Australia as potential bidder for the games. The announcement was made by chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth 2010 in Delhi, India’s Suresh Kalmadi, at closed door Sports Breakfast meeting during the recently held Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad in November.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning in his speech said he would like to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018. When asked what were the main criteria for hosting the games, Kalmadi said a country needs a strong financial backing. “Finance for one. That’s the main thing, and then your determination and will to create international class to the world,” he said.

Asked if T&T would be able to prepare for an event of this magnitude, he said, “It depends on your government. If they are ready to come forward or not.”

The 2010 games, to be held in Delhi, India next October, have already cost India’s government US $2 billion. The event is expected to create 2.5 million jobs and will see more than 100,000 tourists gracing India’s shores.

The host of the 2018 Games will be announced at the General Assembly in Basseterre, St. Kitts in November 2011.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Hero Honda to partner Commonwealth Games relay

Bike manufacturer Hero Honda Motors on Friday announced that the group would partner the Queen’s Baton Relay of the Commonwealth Games 2010.

‘The Queen’s Baton will enter India from the Wagah border after completing a journey of 170,000 km across all Commonwealth countries. The baton would spread the message of ‘Peace through Sports’ as it enters India from Pakistan,’ Games Organizing Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said.

‘Hero Honda would play a prominent role in greeting the Baton in India and also when the Baton traverses the entire length and breadth of the country,’ he said.

Pawan Munjal, chief executive of Hero Honda, said: ‘There is a perfect synergy between our brand attributes and the values of optimism, hope, unity and the celebration of the human spirit that the Commonwealth Games imbibe.’

As part of this partnership, Hero Honda Motors will market its leadership position through the use of the Games marks and imagery. This recognition will allow Hero Honda to enjoy marketing rights, advertising, promotion and recognition to connect with all its consumers and dealers around the country.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

CWG impact: Visa on arrival for tourists

In a major boost for Commonwealth Games 2010, the government has introduced for the first time `visa on arrival' scheme for tourists from five countries starting first quarter of 2010.

Tourists from Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Finland and Luxembourg and will get visa on arrival facility on a pilot basis for a period of one year. The scheme will be applicable at all international airports as well as ports across the country. The visa on arrival scheme is expected to provide a quantum jump in foreign tourist arrivals to India from target countries.

The decision is taken considering the boost required to promote incoming tourism from these countries which are potential source markets for India. There is also a suggestion to government for extending this facility further to tourists from seven more countries. These countries including Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, Laos, Cambodia and South Africa be allowed to avail this facility.

Visa on arrival facility is offered by several southeast Asian countries and proves popular with foreign tourists looking for a short break. Germany and Japan are among the top 10 source countries for India while Brazil and Netherlands have shown encouraging growth over the last year.

Due to security reasons, countries like the US, UK and Pakistan are out of the list of countries that will be accorded the facility, officials said. But this could change once airlines offer advance passenger information.

Incidentally, India has already introduced long-term multiple entry visa for 18 countries including France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam in 2006.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Indian tourist visa rules

India has modified its tourist visa regime to plug a loophole because of which tourists were staying in India for multiple years. As per the earlier process, toursists with multiple entry visa could stay in India for upto 180 days. However, they could visit any other country and come back to India within a day and then were allowed to stay upto 180 days or till expiration of visa, whichever is earlier.

As per new tourist visa rules, visitors with multiple entry visa will have to wait for a period of 2 months before they can visit India again.

The move apparently is made in light of revelation that terrorists involved in 26/11 attack travelled between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; and could carry out elaborate planning before executing the attacks.

The change in rules affects holders of multi-entry visas. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has decreed that anyone who intends to enter the country twice in less than two months must seek additional permission from the High Commission of India or the Indian Consulates in various countries.

To get permission to visit more than once in two months, travelers must take a full itinerary with hotel and flight bookings and submit the same to Indian consulates.

The approval of second visit can take 3-4 days, but in straight forward cases permission is normally granted within a couple of hours, with a "Miscellaneous Charge" of about $10 for the privilege.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Commonwealth Games to break-even financially

Government of India has given projections for 2010 Commonwealth Games.

According to a release, Commonwealth Games will generate Rs 1708 crore, which is Rs 88 crore more than the government has budgeted for the conduct of the multi-discipline event.

Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Pratik Prakashbapu Patil said in the parliament today that the government has enhanced the budget for the October 3-14 Games from Rs 767 crore to Rs 1620 crore.

"The Organising Committee has estimated that it would generate revenue of around Rs 1708 crore from international/domestic broadcasting, sponsorship, ticketing, licensed merchandise, donations etc," the Minister told in his reply to a written question.

Explaining the decision to raise the allocation, Patil said, the additional funds are likely to be spent by the Organising Committee on accreditation, city operations, sponsorships and TV rights, security, accommodation, catering, opening and closing ceremonies, protocol and Queens Baton Relay.

IGI Metro line to have GIS security

The showcase Airport Express Line touted as Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s jewel in the crown has added another feather to its cap. The line, which will run between Connaught Place and Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in 18 minutes, will be mapped on Geographic Information System (GIS) to enhance safety, maintenance and traffic regulation, a first of its kind exercise in India.

Mapping the 22.7-km Metro corridor expected to become operational by September 2010 on GIS will help in mobilizing emergency services in case of an accident.

Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created to build the line, will map all the emergency services, including fire stations, police stations and hospitals along the alignment, said a senior spokesperson of the consortium. The spokesperson said that the company has already made some maps for the Delhi alignment. Once the construction of the corridor is complete, locations of the piers, viaduct and stations will be imported to GIS. ‘‘GIS technology will enable efficient maintenance of the Metro line and it will have layers ranging from technical details of pillars, piers and transformers,’’ the spokesperson added.

The layers correspond to the Metro corridor, utilities, and land base including roads, landmarks, buildings, rivers and railway crossings. It also maintains information on the equipment like underground cables, transformers, piers, viaduct, stations and tracks.

‘‘With the help of GIS maps the exact location of the fault along the network can be determined and maintenance team can be dispatched immediately. This will ensure speedy maintenance and a better and reliable service,’’ the spokesperson said.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Delhi working to establish emergency care for CWG

Delhi Government is in the process of identifying doctors including sports physicians, physiotherapists and masseurs from various governmental and non -governmental organizations.

Health Department, Government of Delhi has been identified as the nodal agency. A sub Committee on Health has been set up by the Organizing Committee (OC) of Commonwealth Games with Health Minister of GNCT of Delhi as the Chairperson. A Polyclinic would be established at the Games Village. At each of the stadia Medical Centre with emergency care facilities to provide on the spot medical care to the athletes, officials and others shall be established.

First aid posts shall also be established at the competition venues to provide on the spot care to the spectators. Appropriate ambulance coverage shall be provided to these venues. 150 Ambulances are being arranged for the city.

The primary and supplementary response hospitals have been identified for each of the venue to take care of any eventuality. They are being upgraded.

These are in addition to 3 intensive care and trauma treatment hospitals namely GBP Hospital, AIIMS and RML Hospital.

A State of art Sports Injury Centre is being established at Safdarjung hospital which is likely to be operational by May 2010.

Hospital disaster management plans are already functional in the hospitals in accordance to the State Disaster Management Plans to take on any eventuality.

Municipality Corporation of Delhi is the nodal agency for issues related to Public Health with support from National Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health & FW, Government of India.

This information was given by Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Beatrice Faumuina qualified for Commonwealth Games in New Delhi

Beatrice Faumuina has qualified for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi next year with her first foray of the season yesterday. Competing at the Battle of the Cities meeting at North Shore's Sovereign Stadium, in far from ideal conditions, the 1997 world champion was out to 56.09m, just over the performance standard for the Games of 56m.
New Zealand's Beatrice Faumuina at Delhi Commonwealth GamesFaumuina, gold medallist in the discus at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur and the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, was extremely pleased."It was my first outing in months, so I'm very happy," she said.

Instead of training over winter offshore, Faumuina and her coach Ross Dallow decided on a solid build-up in Auckland.

"We made the decision really early that it was a good idea to stay home and have a really heavy winter and I haven't even backed off that phase yet as much as I'd like to," she added.

Faumuina is ranked 44th in the world and third in the Commonwealth this year with her New Zealand title throw of 60.03m in Wellington in March.

A total of 100 women athletes in the world have thrown over 56m this year but only nine are from the Commonwealth.

Australia's Dani Samuels, who won the world title at Berlin in August, heads the Commonwealth rankings with her title-winning throw of 65.44m.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Faumuina was fourth with a throw of 59.12m - well below her best - when she was expected to medal. At the Beijing Olympic Games she failed to make the final, finishing 28th.

Beatrice Faumuina, NZ at Delhi Commonwealth Games

She has also been a controversial figure. Her fourth at Melbourne did not go down well but it was her behaviour at Beijing that caused most upset. She became embroiled in a strange exchange with media and then agitated to go home early, rather than staying to support the team.

Dave Currie, the New Zealand team chef de mission, said she had to pay her own way home, upsetting Faumuina.

Currie said at the time all the New Zealand athletes were booked to fly home on a charter flight - as a team.

Those with post-Olympic competitions, such as professional football player Ryan Nelsen and road cyclist Julian Dean, had arranged to leave early before the games. Otherwise, athletes were meant to remain in Beijing as part of the team and travel home together, Currie said.

"People support you and you go out and support your mates," Currie said. "If Beatrice has gone, you'd have to say you're disappointed with her, but once somebody's gone, she's gone. The key right now is the team providing support for each other."

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Gurgaon approves B&B for Commonwealth Games

To accommodate the rush of tourists during the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi October next year, the Haryana government announced a bed and breakfast scheme for Gurgaon. Under the scheme, house owners in Gurgaon city, adjoining national capital New Delhi, will be able to rent out their premises to tourists coming for the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Residents could apply under this scheme and give up a maximum of five rooms for rent with complimentary services like power backup, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning and 24X7 security.

A state government spokesman said here that since building new hotels would take a longer time, the central government has also approved 25 houses which can be converted into guest houses during the Commonwealth Games.

The government approved the bed and breakfast for the NCR also to fill in the gap between the required number of rooms for the Commonwealth Games and those that could be provided by hotels. The registration and other processes have been simplified under the bed and breakfast scheme.

Before giving permission to a property for the bed and breakfast scheme, the security issue would be looked into specifically.

The move has been forced on the government as the hotel industry is facing a financial crunch and real estate market is in a slump. The bed and breakfast scheme came up as a viable alternative. At least 100 such bed and breakfast homes are likely to be approved.

Haryana has been able to offer about 7,000 hotel rooms for the CWG in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Rwanda gets Commonwealth membership

Rwanda will become the 54th member of the Commonwealth, but Fiji remains suspended for failing to hold elections and will be barred from attending the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth nations announced on Sunday.

Three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting also came out with a communique supporting an agreement on climate change at Copenhagen. It contained a commitment to support a $US10 billion Copenhagen launch fund to assist poorer nations most vulnerable to climate change.

The leaders and representatives of the 49 countries which attended the meeting welcomed Rwanda into the Commonwealth and Rwanda announced that it had agreed to re-establish relations with France. The African nation, which was torn apart by ethnic violence in 1994, leaving 800,000 people dead, has been trying to join the Commonwealth for 16 years. Rwanda changed its official language to English in 2007.

But Fiji, which is under military rule, remains suspended. The Commonwealth heads said a decision to suspend Fiji from the 2010 Commonwealth Games was in line with the body's principles.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Indian Rugby team.. What..!!!

That would be the reaction of Indians if they realize that India even has a Rugby team. Believe it of not but there is one..!!

The Indian Rugby team, led by skipper Nasser Hussain, will leave today to participate in the Dubai 7s rugby tournament scheduled to be held between December 3-5.

India will compete against three other teams in their pool namely Les Bleus 7s (France), Tatarstan (Russia) and Namibia Invitational and the top two team progress to the quarterfinal stage.

The team has been undergoing through training schedule at Pune, preparing for these tournaments in the run up to the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

With Delhi being host for next Commonwealth Games, it has given prominence to sports like Rugby 7s in India.

The Dubai Sevens is one of the most awaited tournaments in the Rugby calendar. Coupled with our rigorous practice, the international exposure in the last two months has given the team immense confidence to play alongside and compete against the best teams in the world.

Fiji to appeal Commonwealth Games ban

Fiji officials on Tuesday said that they would appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sports for their exclusion from 2010 Common wealth Games in India. Fiji was barred from the games in September after the country’s military regime ignored international demands to restore democracy following the 2006 coup.

The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) expressed its disappointment on decision taken at Commonwealth Heads of Government summit to uphold Fiji's suspension from the games.

FASANOC president Vidhya Lakhan said,"We totally disagree with this decision. In our view it is tantamount to political interference in sports. As such we will now be taking the matter up to the Court of Arbitration for Sports for a resolution."

Fiji‘s exclusion from games was confirmed in October by the Commonwealth Games Federation following its suspension from the Commonwealth.

The heads of government meeting in Trinidad confirmed Fiji’s expulsion from the games in Delhi, with only Malaysia offering support. Fiji will appeal against the ban in Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, an independent body which settles sports-related disputes.

Indian tourism to grow by 10% in 2010

With many travel writers marking Delhi as one of the top 10 hottest destinations for year 2010, the industry is hoping to achieve a 10 per cent growth next year.

Last 5 quarters have been very difficult for the industry with things starting to look better at the beginning of 3rd quarter this year.

In order to stimulate inbound traffic for 2010, Indian Tourism Minister Kumari Selja said at the World Travel Market that a number of initiatives and events have been put in place to reach this goal, including special packages for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, which is expected to attract up to 100,000 international tourists in October next year.

"We are already in the initial stages of planning extended holidays into India for those travelers who are flying down to attend the Commonwealth Games," Shakir Kantawala, General Manager of Jet Airways, Dubai and Northern Emirates, told Emirates Business. "We are positive it will turn out to be a huge draw for tourists."

Karkaria said: "Our team has already started working on creating special packages for the Commonwealth Games, which will be rolled out to international travel agencies by January 2010."

India's tourism woes began in Q3 last year, when the full impact of the global recession reared its ugly head. Adding to that was the terrorist attack on Mumbai's iconic hotels, Taj and Trident, along with Leopold Café - a popular hangout with foreign tourists.

Statistics revealed a sharp fall in foreign tourists in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, which persisted well into this year. In Dec 2009, arrivals fell 12.5 per cent on the previous year.

The latest available figures by the country's tourism board indicate that 2.4 million foreigners visited India in the Jan-Sep period - down 3.3 per cent on the same period in 2008. However, independent studies reveal a grimmer picture of nearly an eight per cent decline in tourism.

Room Occupancy rates were at 60.9 per cent in 2008-2009, down 18.4 per cent on the previous year.

Nationally, tourism contributed 6.1 per cent to India's GDP - down 0.7 per cent on 2007-08.

To make the matters worse, the second quarter of 2009 the H1N1 pandemic had spread its tentacles into India, providing yet another setback for the tourism industry.

"The Swine flu scare was even more lethal than the attacks on Mumbai," said Al Rais' Rahmany. "Almost 30 to 40 per cent of our business comes through the summer travel. But this year's panic brought that percentage down by nearly 10 points."

Rahmany, however, believes the worst for India's tourism sector is finally behind us. "Christmas and New Year travel to India is gaining momentum, with flights to the metros almost booked out, along with airfares increasing with high demand," he said.

Next year's 10 per cent growth in tourism is definitely achievable with the government even developing 150 rural sites to generate more revenue.

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