So once again the Commonwealth Games have made international headlines for all the wrong reasons. This time apparently because the English and Australian swimmers were falling ill with a stomach bug/infections or a version of Delhi belly.
Some Aussies pulled out the Brits seemed to have soldiered on. They asked for the water in the warm-up pool to be tested. Officials said tests showed no abnormalities, but didn’t mention the feathers and bird droppings in the pool that, according the the Australian team leaders, came from the pigeons that roost in the rafters.
To their credit, though, the Aquatic officials readily admitted that there was a sewage problem in the toilets which they weren’t able to flush, and had no water. Doesn’t bode well for the unwell athletes that would need the facilities urgently.
But my question is, why were only the Aussies and the English affected? Are they the only ones who warm up? Or are their stomachs weaker than the rest of the contingent?
What’s interesting is that few of the local media could be bothered with this. I suppose the headline of “Another foreigner gets a tummy upset” is just not enticing enough for the Indian population.
In fact, the whole outside focus on this seemed to annoy most people here in Delhi. My waiter at breakfast this morning wanted to know why the international media were so eager to paint India in a negative light. I tried to explain the psychology of 24-hour news and how “all is going according to plan stories” don’t seem to please news editors or viewers for that matter. Not sure if he understood my point. Then I told him how there were all kinds of scandals associated with the South Africa World Cup and the Beijing Olympics that the media pounced on. That seemed to satisfy him.
What the Indian media was interested in was the embarassing performance by a racist New Zealand TV anchor, who couldn’t quite believe the name of Delhi’s chief minister. TVNZ’s breakfast show frontman Paul Henry humiliated himself on air, after ridiculing Sheila Dixit because of what her last name sounded like to him.
It’s drawn mixed emotions from our bureau in Delhi itself. One of our cameramen was indignant and said he should have been sacked immediately. But our freelance producer, an analytical young lady, said she noticed that Henry’s co-anchors were equally embarrassed and tried to shut him up, so it should be seen as the actions of one idiot and not tar the whole nation.
And fair enough, the New Zealand prime minister has apologised saying the TV host had shamed the country. And, as one thoughtful journalist pointed out, there are plenty more potentially funny names out there that no one pays attention to. Here are some of them if you feel like having a laugh at the expense of someone else – just don’t do it on live TV.