Fitness enthusiasts and athletes who turned up to participate at the Olympic Day Run organised by the Visakhapatnam District Olympic Association on Sunday returned disappointed as the organisers tried to bite off more they could chew.

The presence of politicians, celebrities, and an attempt at creating a record took away the focus from the main purpose of the event. Those who attended the event to run spent their time trying to avoid getting injured and spending hours waiting for the event to be flagged off. Although participants were divided into seven categories, they were all asked to start the run at the same time. Schoolchildren were separated from their parents who were a worried lot as some even received minor injuries. The organisers were successful in getting an overwhelming response but at the cost of putting people at risk.

Anita Rao, a participant, said that the event was like the Kumbh Mela and even walking was tough. The pushing and jostling and the sight of injured children and elderly people struggling was extremely disappointing. It was a nightmare for women as some participants decided to take advantage of the situation to brush against and harass women, she added. Sangita, a self committed athlete, said she was elated to learn of such an event being held in the city but was thoroughly upset by it. “My zeal for running as a sport was shaken as I witnessed littered footwear, injured participants and the tightly packed body of humanity which was unable to move forward, due to the deplorable planning, delegation and execution on the part of the callous organisers,” she said. Marathons are conducted in Mumbai and Delhi in which celebrities run along with participants at the event and the joy of running as a sport or for a cause is not lost.

The outcome of the event requires a certain amount of introspection on the part of the organisers so that the failures at this event can be rectified and safer event can be conducted instead of the emphasis being on entering the record books and turning a sporting event into a political rally.

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