Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

The Impact of the Commonwealth Games 2010 on Urban Development of Delhi

Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

The Impact of the Commonwealth Games 2010 on Urban Development of Delhi

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

In 2010, one year from now, New Delhi will play host to the third largest multi-sporting event in the world, with tens of thousands of visitors descending upon the city. To prepare itself for this, the city is planning a major overhaul of its urban infrastructure as well as its sporting facilities. These events happen in a city once in a decade or maybe even less, (the last large event held in Delhi was the 1982) and have the ability to transform it.

Sports is now a very passionate and among many, an obsessive subject. In the run up to the Football World Cup 2006, the theme of football as a unifying religion has been played up numerous times in the media. Academicians even postulate that "religious pilgrimages of the past have been replaced by modern pilgrimages to such spectacles as the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup and other such events' (Gibson, 1998). Sporting events have now indeed become "spectacles", and with over 5 billion viewers expected, can give the host community a lot of exposure. India however still remains to make its mark on the world as a sporting nation. With the exception of cricket, and a handful of gifted individuals, Indians have performed quite miserably on the world stage. If one was to examine the last Olympics medal tally by population, that is, population divided by number of medals, India comes last by an enormous margin. Even after the 1982 Asian Games, which gave a dramatic boost to sports facilities in the country, our performance is yet to match international standards.

There are, therefore, some hard questions that need to be answered before one can conclude that such an event has a positive effect on the host community. Is the amount spent on such events worth it? One must remember that the funds that typically go into supporting these events are public funds and therefore should benefit society at large, or at least a large portion, and not just an elite minority. Some other questions that arise out of such events, with particular relevance in this paper, is its impact on the urban scene. Will the event lead to rampant and unchecked development, possibly unplanned? Will the infrastructure created be beneficial post-event or will it remain under utilised and fall into disrepair? Will the city's infrastructure be able to bear the strain of thousands of visitors that flood the city during such an event? Will the event prove to be a hindrance to the city's residents during the event? Will the event actually prove to be a boost to the domestic sports scene? There are numerous questions that arise from such events, many with inconclusive answers. However it is important for a prospective bidder of international sporting events, like New Delhi is, to carefully study all the pros and cons of such an event, and not fall into the trap of making it an issue of "national pride."

2. Worldwide Experiences

The world over, cities vie with each other to host "hallmark" events such as the Olympics, World Cup's etc. It is seen by many as a sure way of shooting the host city into the limelight, resulting in an "economic windfall" (Baade and Matheson, 2003), and at the same time giving these host cities the impetus to improve domestic facilities and infrastructure. The impact of being the host city, range from the physical (construction projects) to the intangible (local self-esteem or international impact). The impact that an event of this kind has on the urban landscape can largely be gauged by the size of the "legacy" that it creates. It is important to note here that it is not only legacy creation that is important, but creating a legacy which is beneficial to the host community post games, and which justifies the costs involved.

The controversy surrounding these events however is centred on its economic sense. Do these games make money for the host city or not? The data from past Olympic games seems to suggest not. All recent Summer Games with the sole exception of the 1984 Los Angeles Games have lost money. …

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