Is This Going to be the Worst Commonwealth Games Ever?

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Pedestrian bridge outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

To say that Tuesday September 21 was a bad day for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, is an understatement.

The day began with various nations seriously questioning the organizers as to whether the standard of the athletes village was going to improve from its current state with the event due to take place in 12 days time. Scotland didn’t mince words, calling the living conditions, “unsafe and unfit for human habitation,” with neighboring nations England, Wales and Northern Ireland all harboring doubts too. On the other side of the world, Australia and Canada raised their concerns and New Zealand’s team manager David Currie actually thinks this year’s Commonwealths (they take place every four years) might even be canceled. “If the village is not ready and athletes can’t come, obviously the implications of that are that it’s not going to happen,” he told New Zealand radio network Newstalk ZB. “Unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, it’s going to be extremely hard to get across the line.”

And if this wasn’t damaging enough, there was then damage of a literal nature, as a footbridge connecting a car park to the main stadium collapsed while construction crews carried out some last-minute work. At least 23 people are reported injured.

These are but the latest setbacks to hit a games mired in rows over alleged corruption, security, planning and an ever-rising bill for Indian taxpayers. As this recent piece points out, even the anthem for the event due to run between October 3-12 — composed by double Oscar winner A.R. Rahman of “Jai Ho” fame no less — is late.

It’s a far cry from the first event held in 1930 under the title of the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario. All but two of the 54 competing Commonwealth nations were once part of the British Empire. But not even all the Queen’s men may be able to put this Commonwealth Games in Delhi back together again.