FINALLY - make sure you vote at the end
The people of Delhi have worked day and night to turn a shambles into a success, writes Peter Hanlon.
Here's something you probably haven't read outside India this past fortnight: the people of Delhi have done a terrific job, and are entitled to be proud of their Games. Faced with greater hurdles than Sally Pearson will ever clear, they've pulled it off admirably and deserve better than the carping, nit-picking and borderline racism that has masqueraded as informed coverage of the Games.
Neither the people of Delhi nor India as a whole can be held accountable for the incompetence of organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi and his offsider Lalit Bhanot. They have let their country down, and their failure to meet basic expectations (the ''organising'' bit, for starters) should ensure neither is left in charge of running so much as a tandoori chook raffle in future. But is India the only place on the planet where buffoons have found their way to high office?
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Locals were left to pick up the pieces and have done so manfully. Constant criticism by media passing off as news their lists of ''things that have made my job harder than it is at home'' has hurt them, and they have had enough.
''Stop the bellyaching, come out and play,'' one Delhi television station pleaded this week. It had a point.
Reciting the A to Z of Delhi Disasters is a tiresome sport, particularly when there is light where some have chosen to see only darkness. But why notice the peepal and shisham trees lining Delhi's broad avenues or the immaculately tended roundabout gardens when there's a ''Dirty Delhi'' headline to be had on a story about cycling's road racers encountering heat and dust? Cyclists on open roads sweating and breathing dust? Surely not.
Why listen to road race bronze medallist Chloe Hosking saying she often rides in 40 degree heat back home or anything from heat to sleet in Europe and that ''this is actually quite enjoyable''? Piddling details like this can wait until after the punchline when you're searching for new ways to tell the Delhi 2010 joke.
And why listen to England's Kelly Holmes, a double Olympic gold medallist with experience of elite competition the world over, when she says: ''I've been really surprised with how everything has come together. We have to give you credit. The village is remarkable.''
That's not what you want to hear when you're convinced you can crank up a link between the food and Nathan Hauritz's inability to take wickets on fifth-day Indian pitches.
The mess that greeted some teams upon arrival was inexcusable, and another knock on the organising committee. But as the wallahs who sweep streets with brooms made of twigs would attest, even the biggest mess can be cleaned up.
Security has been the major stumbling block to these Games but the bag searches, pat-downs and scanners have been omnipresent only because many countries wouldn't have come without them.
Delhiites who have worked day and night to turn Kalmadi and Bhanot's shambles into a workable, enjoyable Commonwealth Games have been the real losers. Not Sally Pearson, whose legitimate disqualification from the women's 100 metres was somehow twisted into the ''latest Delhi stuff-up''.
Some believe Delhi has confirmed that the Games' only hope of survival lies in rotation through the Commonwealth's Western countries, where the best athletes will happily avail themselves of conditions just like home. What a sad ideal.
Surely, not every athlete whose passport grants entry to the anachronistic Commonwealth Games field needs rock star treatment to do their thing. Surely, enough of them still hanker to see a little of the world they supposedly rule.
A colleague who has covered numerous cricket tours here has a catchcry for the speed bumps you hit along those dusty, dirty roads: ''TII - This Is India.''
Anyone expecting Melbourne or Beijing should have stayed home or taken a right turn at Albuquerque.