Amidst the raging controversy over India’s preparedness over hosting Commonwealth Games 2010, we highlight similar instances in the mega-sporting events of the past. And how the host cities overcame the jinx of last minute hitches:
Montreal Olympics: The 1976 Summer Olympics were a financial disaster for Montreal, as the city faced debts for thirty years even after the Olympics had ended. The Quebec provincial government took over construction when it became evident in 1975 that work had fallen far behind schedule; work was still under way just weeks before the opening date, and the main tower was not built.
Athens Olympics: The 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens had to face huge problems in the run up to the Games as almost no major venue and infrastructure project, including tram and road links, was in place before the game. A panicky IOC was forced to reconstitute a new organising committee before the Olympics Games. However, Athens could finally complete the Games venues and infrastructure just in the nick of time. The haste in which the infrastructure was completed led to the death of several construction workers. In some cases, buildings were finished just before competitors and spectators arrived to find landscaping and finishing touches still being applied.
Beijing Olympics: Beijing Olympics in 2008, which are now remembered for its superb show, had its share of criticism as IOC president Jacques Rogge suggested some events may have to be cancelled due to the poor air quality while the torch relay was targeted by the protesters all over the world. But despite the criticism, China came up with an excellent Olympics with a glittering opening ceremony which people of all over the world vividly remember as a new benchmark.
Vancouver Winter Olympics: Vancouver Winter Olympics (2009) faced similar criticism regarding preparations as transport links were not working even before two days of the opening ceremony because there was too much ice and snow at some of the venues. While at some other venues, there was not much snow which posed problems for the organisers. But despite having faced the initial hiccups, Canadian government came up with excellent Games which came-in for a lot of praise from the sports fraternity as well as the different administrators. One of the most feared luge runs in the world went from sporting venue to death trap in the blink of an eye. A horrible accident during training session took the young life of Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili, casting a pall over the start of the Olympics and plunging the host nation into controversy. Alpine skiing event was canceled at Whistler Mountain due to weather conditions.
South Africa World Cup: The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was looking a non-starter as FIFA officials expressed concerns over the timely building of the stadiums. Then, there were concerns over security, ticket sales, stadiums and transport before the World Cup. Initially, the numbers of visitors across the world was low as a result of perceived high prices and safety fears. But with weeks to go, ticket sales picked up and whole world started taking interest in the grand sporting extravaganza which resulted in a great World Cup.