NANDU’S NIGHTMARE by Maya Chandrasekaran

You know what, we should all be thankful that the Olympics are not being held in India, let alone Karnataka. It would have be the first time the Year 2000 Olympics would be held in the year 2010. After all, look at the way we handled the National Games - two years behind schedule, and the last ten days, a frenetic rush to complete the preparations.

For the last two years construction has been supposedly going on at the stadium. Well, that’s true I guess, if you count ant - hill construction, but otherwise the site was fairly deserted. The problem, apparently was that the construction company hadn’t been fully paid by the government for the work completed, so, quite understandably, they brought everything to a halt. Well, I wonder what happened. Maybe the corporators were too busy tearing up invitations because they broke with protocol, and the ministers were too busy claiming credit for bringing the National Games to Karnataka, to bother with piddling things like bills and money. Of course, that must have been it.

And then the athletes moved into their luxurious quarters - no fans (in summer!!!) and inadequate water and electricity facilities. Man, we sure know how to welcome people to this beautiful city of ours.

The opening ceremony was carried out very creditably, considering that the uniforms had to be rushed through and only arrived the previous day. I suppose the tailors in charge awoke with a start from their hibernation and cried, "Gracious! You know those games that were to be held two years ago? Well, they’re being held tomorrow. I guess we’d better get to work, boys!"

No wonder sports is in such a sorry state in our country. And there’s another thing to be thankful for - the Olympics only come once in four years, so it’s only once in four years that our athletes have to return to India empty handed.

It’s surprising that as a country with a population of 900 million, we find it so difficult to send some first rate sports people to compete abroad. When was the last time India won an Olympic gold in a sport that didn’t originate in our country?

Oh, I’m not saying we don’t have the talent. We do, but somewhere along the line things don’t work out. There are many reasons - the lack of emphasis on sports, inadequate sponsorship and funds, and of course, the determined bungling by the authorities in charge. They’re so busy going abroad to study the sports conditions, that there isn’t the time or the money to cater to the basic needs of the sportsperson - either they send a 6ft athlete a tracksuit designed for an average size African pygmy, or they despatch a box load of sport shoes - all for the left foot! What with the finance problems, and administrative problems, it’s no wonder many of the genuinely talented people decide to hang up their running shoes, and take up Chinese Checkers instead!

Up until now, we had one small consolation, one area in which we shone - chess.

After all, we boast of having our very own International Grandmaster, but things aren’t look so good these days. Haven’t you heard? There’s this nasty, upstart of a creature called Deep Blue (the pride of IBM) causing wrath in the heart of chess players the world over!

So, do you really want to ‘Go on, be a sport’?!