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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 10:02 GMT
Delhi wants Games to provide legacy
By Matthew Kenyon
BBC Sport in Delhi

Dancers at the end of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
Delhi showcased its potential at the end of the Melbourne Games
Preparations are in full swing in the Indian city of Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games - the first major multi-sports event to go to the country since the Asian Games in the early 1980s.

Delhi is looking to use the Games not only to improve Indian sporting performance, but also to help redevelop the city's infrastructure and change the way it is perceived around the world.

And the pride associated with bringing such a major event to Delhi is coupled with the way it is being used to drive forward change in the city.

"It becomes a legacy for the future of Delhi," says the city's Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit.

"It's a great occasion and a great opportunity - a world event taking place."

Right to host

Development in the city of more than 12m people has, historically, been haphazard - many citizens live in poverty, and pollution can be extreme.

Laying on a world-class event like the Commonwealth Games will require a pace of change not often seen in any city anywhere in the world.

Sheila Dikshit
The whole nation is taking a deep interest; it's a matter of our own glory
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit
But there is optimism that this can be achieved. Major-General Jayant Varma, head of the North Indian office of international consultants Knight Frank, says that much action has already been taken since Delhi won the right to host the games.

"Roads, metro-rail, increased water supply, availability of more power - these are the aspects in which the government is taking active steps," he explains.

The metro system in particular, only a few years old, can compare with any underground system in the world. Wide, clean, comfortable and efficient trains transport passengers around an ever-widening network.

And it may also be a chance for India to express its importance in the world - especially with neighbour and rival China hosting the Olympic Games next year.

For Sheila Dikshit, the scale of the two events is not the same. She sees the Commonwealth Games - and possibly another Asian Games too - as run-ups to a full-scale Olympic bid, for which 2016 is the earliest date possible.

"I think this will be a great step forward," she adds.

"No less a person than the Prime Minister himself is taking an interest. The whole nation is taking a deep interest; it's a matter of our own glory, to show to all of you the capabilities that exist in India.

"India can work for other countries, so it can certainly do that for its own."

Improving standards

But Pradeep Magazine, sports editor of the Hindu Times newspaper, believes that while the money and infrastructure may make a bid possible - with the 2020 Games a more likely target - there are concerns from some that India is not yet at the sporting level required.

"What they should be concerned with is the standard of the sport," he says.

"Indian athletics has not improved at all. At one time, we were very good in Asia, but over the last few years we have been sliding.

"It is an area of concern. And there are lots of people who feel that instead of investing in hosting such mammoth, huge Games, India should be investing in its infrastructure to improve the standards of the athletes."


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