There are lots of sad things about the Delhi Commonwealth Games. The massive waste of taxpayer money, the corruption, the embarrassment to India etc etc that we have already heard lots about. For me, however, one of the saddest things was that there was almost no effort to involve Indians (the people paying for it all) as spectators.
I was in Sydney for the Olympic games and have incredible memories of the atmosphere in the city. There were cultural festivals, entertainment zones, big screens set up in public places. Everyone knew what was happening and everyone wanted tickets. I think there was actually a lottery system to get tickets, because so many people wanted to see events.
The week before the CWG I was interviewed over the phone by ABC radio. The host asked me if I was planning on attending any events, and I realized that I didn’t even know how to get tickets, or what the timetable was for events. I wasn’t even sure what the dates were. I read 3-4 newspapers and multiple websites every day. If I don’t know these things, I don’t know how anyone else will.
Ultimately, the tickets were quite affordable, starting from Rs.100 (about $2.25, or less than the cost of a movie ticket) and horribly undersold. The worst case I have read about so far is a hockey match with 100 out of 17,000 seats filled
Here are a few of the mistakes that were made:
- Ticket details were announced at the last minute. It was possible to purchases tickets thought the CWG website (if you had internet and a credit card)but this was never advertised. Additional purchase points were opened far too late, and the staff at these places (banks, post offices etc) were not trained or prepared for the ticket sales. Confusion and frustration ensued.
- No publicity on timetables or ticketing details.
- No encouragement for Indians to attend the games.
- No real effort to distribute tickets for free when it was clear they weren’t going to be sold.
Here’s what I would have done:
- Ticket policies and availability should have been announced at least 3 months in advance
- Media partners in TV, radio, and print could have been roped in to educate people about the sports, the timetables, and ticket availability.
- There should have been a wide network of purchase points, with dedicated staff trained in advance
- Travel packages that included travel, accommodation, and games tickets should have been designed and offered through travel agents across the country. Paying them commission on sales would encourage them to actively sell games tickets
- An effort should have been made to ‘celebritize’ the athletes that were representing India. Local politicians and community groups in the home towns of each athlete could have been asked to encourage their area to support that athlete.
- Use of social media, especially Orkut and Facebook.
- Sports festivals should have been arranged around the country to expose Indians (perhaps school children) to different sports and allow them to try out the ones that aren’t popular in India
- Sports clubs/schools/community groups/housing societies would be offered discounted group rates to encourage their members to attend.
- Companies could avail of employee reward packages that could include tickets and food coupons
- A percentage of the tickets should have been distributed free of cost to NGOs, government schools etc to ensure everyone is included in this.
- Free outdoor screening points where people who couldn’t travel to Delhi could gather to watch the games, with promotions regarding the Indian athletes, so the crowd knew who to cheer for
- What else?