Inside Lines: Why I doubt these 'shame Games' will go Delhi-up

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The Independent Online

The Commonwealth Games, which get under way today, are the first I have missed in 40 years, thanks to a pending knee operation. "Aren't you glad not to be going to this one?" I am asked. Actually no. I'd love to be there despite dire warnings of them going Delhi-up. This is not to make light of the problems that have surrounded the shambolic prelude and for that I believe a lax Commonwealth Games Federation are as much to blame as the corruption and inefficiency to which the Indian government seems to have turned an uncaring eye. But I believe that the likelihood of a major catastrophe such as a terrorist attack is remote. Simply because there is the anticipation of one. Having experienced the atrocity that befell the Munich Olympics in 1972, when 11 Israelis were massacred by Black September, I doubt whether Delhi will be as horrendous as many fear once the running, jumping and splashing begins. As a top security adviser to the IOC once privately pointed out, terrorism is about the element of surprise. Militants strike where it is least expected, not where it is. Of course, this does not lessen the necessity for the tightest security or stop the odd nutter doing something daft. The best security in the world cannot cater for that, as witnessed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. But security in Delhi will be paramount. The Commonwealth Games have always had their share of drama, and Delhi won't be an exception. But I suspect after all preceding controversies, there will be a sense of relief when they happen, and all involved will return home safe and sound, better for the experience.

Casting a shadow

Sports minister Hugh Robertson's flying visit to Delhi's opening ceremony this weekend will also embrace talks with India's sports minister M.S Gill and ICC chief Sharad Pawar on how to tackle cricket's illegal betting. "There is no single way to stop it but it would help if India and certain other Asian countries legalised betting so governments could monitor it," he argues. On his return, Robertson may find he has a different Opposition spokesman in parliament, for we hear ex-Labour minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who backed sports-loving Andy Burnham against Miliband minor, doesn't relish the shadow role.

Haye's hatchet job

Last week saw the 35th anniversary of Ali and Frazier's "Thrilla in Manila," arguably the greatest heavyweight fight in history. And so to David Haye v Audley Harrison, which by any stretch of the imagination won't be. Haye is one of the most amenable characters in boxing, but, he's becoming a bit of a prat. Not content with figuratively decapitating the Klitschkos, he compared the outcome of the 13 November bout to gang rape,and now says he wants Harrison to be allowed to bring an axe into the the ring "because even with that he doesn't stand a chance". Doesn't he realise the public distaste for such puerile hype? While he's been prattling on, lively new British champ Derek Chisora apparently has leapfrogged him to challenge for Wladimir Klitschko's titles in Germany on 11 December. How sad is that, David?

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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