Commonwealth Organising Committee chairperson Suresh Kalmadi has been in the eye of many a storm. He hopes to weather the latest one by helping India host the best-ever Commonwealth Games. Excerpts from an interview with Shreevatsa Nevatia.
You are the face of the Commonwealth Games. Does that put a lot of pressure on your ability to function?
Anything positive that I get from the media or elsewhere, I readily accept, and whatever is otherwise, I don’t. During the (1982) Asiad, there was one television channel. Now there are a hundred, and each one wants to know what is going wrong with the CWG.
You’ve said these will be the best CWG ever held. Is that optimism or fact?
It isn’t me who is saying that. Four months ago, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) met here for a coordination commission meeting. The chief executive of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, Perry Crosswhite, who has been our biggest critic thus far, went back to Australia and said that the games in India might turn out to be the best ever.
What, according to you, will be the lasting legacy of these games?
As the chairman of the Olympic Committee, I feel happy that in the land of cricket, Olympic sports are getting the importance they should have. We have an icon in Tendulkar. We need others. The PM has given support by allocating Rs 600 crore for CWG training.
But the real recipient of the legacy is going to be the city of Delhi. A city moves five years ahead when it hosts games of a scale this large. So, you have wider roads, newer flyovers, the metro, one of the world’s best airports. Money is not being spent just for 15 days. The benefits will continue.