Friday, October 8, 2010

CWG Experiences

I've been to a couple of CWG events during the past few days, mainly to see what the organisers have managed to pull off and to be a small part of a big event happening in my city. Leaving aside the matter of how they prepared for the games, I wanted to see whether what they tried to do actually worked.

On Tuesday, I went to see Badminton at the Siri Fort Sports Complex; that went pretty smoothly. Even though there were no signs at the main entrance telling spectators to use the side entrance, we did manage to find our way to the gate we were supposed to use, buy tickets, and reach our seats. The area was clean, there were more than enough volunteers to guide us along the somewhat convoluted path to the stadium, and the stadium itself looked great. The entire experience was a lot of fun. Badminton is a sport that I have played and like, so I could at least dimly appreciate the skill of the players. The entire event seemed fairly well organised.

The next day, however, my mom and I tried to go watch Athletics at the new Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. I say "tried" because even though we bought tickets, we didn't actually manage to go into the stadium. The "servers were down" when we got to JLN Stadium to buy tickets, but thankfully, we only had to wait five minutes before the servers were up and the queue was moving. So, standing at Gate 14, we finally managed to buy two tickets that allowed us entry at Gate 6.

How far could it be, we reasoned, and resolutely walked the way indicated by the police officers. And walked and walked and walked. At one point, we actually left the stadium behind us and took a road leading away from the stadium because the road around the stadium was blocked. So we were supposed to walk up the other road, take two lefts, and walk all the way back to the stadium.

We walked for nearly 45 minutes before we reached an intersection point with CWG volunteers. Who then informed us that Gate 6 was at least another kilometre from where we stood, and the only way to get there was to walk. I was tired, my mother was exhausted, and we were furious. After somewhat dramatically tearing up the tickets and throwing them away, we found an auto and came back home.

Today, we went to watch the India versus Australia hockey match. Someone we knew had two extra tickets, so I don't know whether the servers at the ticket office at the Dhyanchand Stadium were down or not, but we got to the stadium easily (we took an auto rather than try the shuttle service from Metro stations). Both the matches were fun to watch, even though the Indian team got trounced by the Australians, and the audience was huge, enthusiastic and very loud.

The problem emerged when we wanted to leave. After the match was over, the entire audience trooped out of the stadium only to find no shuttle buses to take us to the nearest Metro stations. We ended up walking nearly a kilometre, I think, to Pragati Maidan, where we stood in a very long line to get through security check, to finally take a train back home.

What I've found is that the CWG Organising Committee seems to have done a good job with the actual building of the stadiums and other venues, late as the completion might be. The operations of the games, however, need some serious help. Efficient selling of tickets should not be as a big a hurdle as it seems to be! And it makes absolutely no sense to expect spectators to walk so much to watch anything, let alone matches where India may not even be playing!

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