Rakesh Rao

NEW DELHI: The opening day of the Badminton Asia championship truly tested the organisational abilities, logistical and other related arrangements of the host and, on most counts, the result was a complete disaster.

It is a pity that this “test event” for the Commonwealth Games is treated as one, forgetting that it is the continental championship — one of the biggest the sport has to offer.

On the first day of the two-day qualifying phase at the newly-built indoor hall at the Siri Fort Complex, the electronic scoreboards, quite shockingly, did not work at all.

The “field of play,” clearly the most important area of any competition, whether it is a “test event” or not, left much to be desired since there was no way for players, officials and mediapersons to ascertain the progress of any match.

Absence of scores

For the mediapersons, in the absence of scores, it was embarrassing, especially considering the stature of the event, to first ask the players their result and the scores before starting a conversation. The worst hit was the team of television commentators who had no clue of the score on most occasions.

Dinesh Khanna, winner of the men's singles title in 1965 and here as a commentator, admitted that it was indeed a challenge to comment on the proceedings in the absence of the scores. “Luckily, it was not going live,” said the soft-spoken champion of yesteryear.

Outside, the entry into the stadium of even those accredited for the event was handled poorly by the ill-informed policemen. Briefed only to let in players and officials (with blue colour-code on the accreditation card), the policemen questioned other accredited personnel, including mediapersons.

Improper briefing

“How did you reach up to this point?” one of the policemen asked. The poorly-briefed policemen seemed only too happy to send those without the ‘Blue accreditation' to the other end of the stadium.

The large posse of policemen (there were more men in uniform than all the players, officials and others put together) in the still under-construction Siri Fort Sports Complex ensured that the arena did not wear a deserted look!

Since the entry of vehicles (without the authorised stickers) is strictly prohibited, one wonders how the spectators are going to make their way into the complex in the coming days. Indications were that from Tuesday, even parking at the Siri Fort Auditorium would be out-of-bounds for the general public.

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has spent lakhs to inform the public about the event and urged them to come and support it. It would be a pity if the security arrangements and poor parking facilities keep the crowds away as the competition progresses.

Meanwhile, the two Indian girls, P.C. Thulasi and Gayatri Vartak, made second-round exits from the singles qualifying rounds. Thulasi, who defeated Pakistan's Sara Khan 21-9, 21-16 in the morning, surrendered 8-21, 9-21 in just 24 minutes to Chinese Taipei's Hsiao Ma Pai.

Gayatri, after beating Sri Lanka's Chandrika de Silva 21-17, 21-12, expectedly lost to China's Xin Liu 12-21, 11-21.

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper