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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Stay at home

The Delhi High Court has just announced that Suresh Kalmadi will not be allowed to attend the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Their reason is that the world might see him as an ‘official representative’ and that would be contrary to ‘national interest’. I think this makes sense, as he has hardly covered India with glory in his interactions with the outside world.

But what I can’t understand is why he’s still allowed to attend the rest of the Olympic Games. After 27 July, he is free to leave the country, and one has got to think he’ll be making a beeline for the Olympic Village. What can he possibly do at the Opening Ceremony that he can’t do during the rest of the Games? Well, here are a few ideas:

1. Delay the Opening Ceremony: Remember CWG 2010, and the headlines every day that talked of delay in every conceivable aspect of the organization? Well, Kalmadi was in charge then. It could be that his very presence is a catalyst for delay, and that his being at the Opening Ceremony will cause a huge delay, and our contingent athletes’ visas will expire, and we will not win any medals. This is clearly against national interest.

2. Cause infrastructure problems: Along with delays, bridge collapses and malfunctioning toilets follow Mr. Kalmadi. If this happens on the first day of the Olympics, it could put a damper on proceedings, and India would be blamed.

3. March with the contingent: Kalmadi has a trick of getting to places he shouldn’t. It would be no surprise if he somehow ended up marching with the Indian contingent and bearing the flag, and that would be a national disaster.

4. Award Olympics contracts: to all the wrong people, and thereby cause a loss of billions of pounds (a fair percentage of which, of course, would end up in his pocket). 

5. Steal the firecrackers: Every Olympics has an impressive fireworks display as part of its Opening Ceremony, and London is likely to use up all their quota for Guy Fawkes’ Day three months early. But Kalmadi might cause all the fireworks to go missing, and then have them found in his tent (or, more likely, palatial flat). It would be extremely hard for our government to explain such an occurrence.

6. Mentor his juniors: The new heads of the Indian Olympic Association have not been in office very long; it could be that they are completely honest. But if Kalmadi is given a few minutes alone with them (as will undoubtedly happen during the long, boring ceremony) he could transfer information of the unwanted kind to them, and give the CAG another year of declaring record sports-related scams.

7. To create a record: It could be that the Delhi High Court’s decision to debar Kalmadi has nothing to do with what he might do at all. Maybe they want to appear in the Limca Book of World Records for being the first High Court to stop someone from attending the Olympics. After all, they have nothing better to do, right? Delhi is a haven of lawfulness and safety for women; Guwahati has overtaken it in the female safety rankings. So they can take time to ensure that their name appears in the press.

So, overall, it seems like the Delhi HC made the right decision!

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