Great Britain’s world triple-jump champion Phillips Idowu (above) announced his intent to skip the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Dehli, citing concerns over safety that are being echoed by others in the GB camp. The Guardian’s Barney Rownay considers Idowu’s situation and declares, ‘India does have plenty to apologise for: those terrible middle-aged hammy male Bollywood stars with their gnarly sunglassed gangster faces; the new moneyed generation of Prada-class goons…but it seems a little sad they are being forced to apologise for its poverty and its vast, insoluble muddle.”
“I cannot take any risk whatsoever, no matter how small,” Idowu declared on Twitter, presumably while being winched slowly from his lead-lined sleep chamber by hired ninja guards and strapped into his padded high chair for a breakfast of pre‘masticated custard.
There are a number of conclusions you may draw from this. The first is that Idowu, in common with a number of similarly minded team-mates, believes there is a genuine chance he will be hit by a collapsing item of city infrastructure while competing in the triple jump. It may be useful to point out here that of all human beings Idowu is perhaps best placed to avoid this hazard, his hopping, skipping and jumping capabilities being ideally suited to escaping falling debris in a track and field scenario.
Stars of track and field are beautiful people with fast-twitch muscle fibres and lovely clear complexions, but they also exist by necessity in a bubble of ascetic absorption. Their lives are a blend of agonising exertion and downtime pampering. They don’t generally travel to broaden the mind, or take gap years or spend four months wearing the same student-issue stripy cotton trousers and living in a beach hut so lowly even the rats are hunch-backed. Photos of grime-encrusted bathroom fittings in the athletes’ village “ where, no doubt, the on-site construction workers are currently billeted “ will have troubled these citizens of the international chain-hotel circuit.