In the run-up to the Commonwealth Games, in all the ‘test events’ seen so far, the common factor has been the mismanagement of the venue operations and the lack of understanding shown by those dealing with the media.
Those behind venue operations have paid least attention to the requirements of those from the Fourth Estate.
Despite being made to undergo police verification separately for each event in a majority of the cases, the mediapersons are deemed to be among the serious “security risks.”
After facing trying times at the National Stadium and Karni Singh range earlier, the fitness levels of the mediapersons are being tested at the Siri Fort Complex, the venue for the Badminton Asia championships.
Consider this: Since no parking stickers were issued to the media transport, arranged by the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, citing security reasons, journalists are dropped outside the stadium, a couple of hundred metres from the entrance of the stadium complex.
It was not possible to sanitize the media buses, shuttling between the OC Headquarters and the venue, unlike the buses for players and officials, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) President, V. K. Verma explained.
The trek to the stadium ends after two rounds of frisking and scanning by a bunch of disinterested policemen. The media entrance is from the opposite end of both the Media Centre and the Media Tribune (inside the playing hall on the first floor). It would have made perfect sense to allow the media to use the main entrance since it is right next to the Media Centre.
But those from the Organising Committee say that it was done at the behest of Delhi Police which did not want the entry points for VIPs and the media to be “mixed” because of perceived security risks.
“I understand your problems but nothing can be done now since the decision has been taken by the Police,” said Verma who is also OC Director-General.
It is surprising that when every mediaperson has been verified by the police, many times over in some instances, before the Organising Committee issued accreditations, the police still fears the worst from the media.
The youngsters handling venue operations are quick to evade all questions by the scribes saying, “This stadium is still under construction, you know. All the entrances are not functional.”
This leaves the journalists to walk almost the full circumference of the playing hall to reach the Media Centre past the entrance meant for the spectators from the Media Tribune.
The grossly inadequate Media Tribune apart, the media room is far from a place where any serious work can be done. What should have been a restricted area is, in fact, the only free zone in the entire complex!
Meant for bona fide journalists, the lounge-cum-working area is occupied more by non-journalists. Since there is no check-point at the entrance of the Media Centre, any number of policemen, umpires/officials, various teams formed by the Organising Committee can be seen enjoying snacks and coffee. It can easily be mistaken for a cafeteria.
The decibel levels were particularly high on the first two days and became bearable only on Wednesday when the main draw matches commenced.
Funnily, most of the public conveniences, barring the ones meant for players and the VIPs, are locked in the stadium complex from 4 pm. On this subject, all concerned agree that this is indeed a serious problem.
Mr. Verma was quick to assure that the rest rooms would be opened at least one hour after the last game was over. The assurance surely brought some “relief” to all present.