CWG venues fast becoming white elephants (Year after CWG)

September 30th, 2011 - 5:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) Lack of residential facilities and high rentals have scared national sports federations away from holding their training camps or major tournaments at the state-of-the-art Commonwealth Games (CWG) venues, some of which have started to rot within a year of the mega event here.

In the last one year, only a handful of tournaments have been held at the 12 CWG venues which were put up spending crores of rupees.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chiefs fear these huge stadiums will soon become white elephants, like the ones in South Africa after the FIFA World Cup, if they are not thrown open to sportspersons and federations. The 2012 Olympic city in London is already worried about the venues after the Games.

The upkeep of these world-class stadiums is a major concern for their owners, the government agencies.

Why can’t the national camps be held at these facilities? The federations cite lack of residential facilities at these stadiums.

Athletics Federation of India (AFI) director M.L. Dogra says AFI prefers to hold its camps at NIS, Patiala, or at various Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres instead of the swanky Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium because of lack of residential facilities there.

“We prefer to have our national camps at NIS in Patiala, SAI centres in Kolkata or Bangalore or at the Usha School of Athletics in Calicut where there is good residential accommodation. We generally prefer to have the Nehru stadium as the transit camp,” Dogra told IANS.

Baljeet Singh Sethi, secretary-general of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), concurred with Dogra.

NRAI has hosted only one tournament since the Commonwealth Games at the Karni Singh Shooting Range - the Sajjan Singh memorial championship earlier this month.

“We have our national camps at the Balewadi sports complex in Pune since it has residential facilities. The Karni Singh Range is on the outskirts of the city and it becomes costly for us to hold national camps there. We have requested the ministry to have a sports hostel at the shooting range,” Sethi told IANS.

The Yamuna Sports Complex too has not seen much action since it hosted archery and table tennis at the Oct 3-14 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Owned by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), it has hosted three archery national-level tournaments since October and one major table tennis event which was held in December.

But the complex in far-flung east Delhi has been out of favour with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), which organised the Asian Junior Table Tennis Championships at the centrally located Thyagaraj Stadium.

“DDA has not been able to maintain the venue,” TTFI treasurer V.K.
Bawa told IANS.

“We conducted the All-India North Zone tournament shortly after CWG, but the place was dirty. It is located at such a far off place that it is a hassle for players to commute. Also, the charges for the venue are prohibitive and no federation can afford it. We paid Rs.1 lakh per day at Yamuna whereas Thyagaraj charges half that amount.”

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) also prefers Thyagaraj Stadium to top-rated Siri Fort stadium which was the venue for CWG badminton and squash.

BAI has organised only one Super Series tournament at Siri Fort while two domestic tour events were held at Thyagaraj.

BAI said the cost of organising tournaments at Siri Fort is too high and the government must come up with a scheme that is affordable for sports bodies.

“The Siri Fort stadium is under DDA and holding tournaments there is expensive. We can understand DDA’s point of view as well. The lights alone can cost Rs.60,000-70,000 per day,” BAI vice-president T.P.S. Puri told IANS.

“The warm-up area at Siri Fort is used for training, but holding just four-five tournaments will not pay for the maintenance of a stadium. We hope that a via media could be found. For example, they can charge us some percentage from commercially-sponsored major tournaments while letting it out free for national tournaments,” he said.

The Delhi Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) sports complex, however, stands out as an exception, holding as many as seven international tournaments this year, including the junior Davis Cup and junior Fed Cup. The hard court national championship will be held there next month.

The complex has a residential wing and the room tariff is Rs.1,000 a night and the national gymnastics team made full use of the facilities here during a recent visit.

(Pragya Tiwari can be contacted at pragya.t@ians.in)

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