Now, even official merchandise for the Commonwealth Games is under a cloud

Merchandising items like T-shirts, mugs, coins and perfumes were supposed to be in stores by July. However, these items have yet to see the light of day.  

The upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held in New Delhi seems to be mired in many controversies. Allegations are flying thick and fast on stadia not being constructed on time, equipment being hired for astronomical rates and huge amounts of money being siphoned to shell companies in the UK.

Now it appears that the Organising Committee (OC) of the CWG has been dragging its feet on releasing the official merchandise for the sporting event.  

If you were looking for metal coins with CWG logos, or T-shirts with the mascot Shera, or for that matter even a branded CWG mug, you will be in for a surprise. Merchandising sponsor Premier Brands has been informed to put these items in deep freeze till 6th August. Obviously, this could severely dent the revenues that the organisers hope to make from these merchandising items, which normally sell like hot cakes before any big-ticket sporting event.

Moneylife spoke to an official from Premier Brands, who informed us that it has been informed by the OC to delay its merchandising launch to 6th August. "They (the OC) have said that they are not satisfied with the merchandising products and asked us to launch the product from 6th August," an official from Premier Brands admitted, preferring anonymity.

The first phase of sales of merchandising items was to begin from the second week of July, with sales vans and a store at the OC headquarters being the points of purchase.

The OC could have raked it in from the sale of official merchandise. Just as an example, even in a non-soccer playing nation like the US, sales of official FIFA World Cup merchandise crossed $35 million.  

A CWG official told Moneylife that the merchandise would be ready in stores only by 6th August. However, he was not willing to answer any other queries. Lalit Bhanot, CWG's official spokesperson, was not so forthcoming. At first, he said that our call was not audible. When we called again, his phone was switched off.

Early marketing of these merchandising items would have created the much-needed hype and awareness which the CWG sorely needs.

In fact, piracy has been rampant, thanks to the apathy on the part of the OC. Several merchants were selling unofficial branded products with the mascot printed on them. In July, the OC released an advertisement affirming its copyright over the CWG logo and threatened legal action against those found selling its merchandise.

There are various brand properties related to the games that can be leveraged by an official licensee - the 'Delhi 2010' logo, the 2010 CWG mascot (Shera), games based on the event, pictograms, other signature elements and the CWG 'Team India' logo.

This is but one of the many controversies which are threatening to derail the games. The report from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has cast a long shadow on the OC - the anti-corruption watchdog has pointed out the poor quality of construction material and grant of work to disqualified agencies in several CWG projects.

Allegations are also being made by a few sections of the media that the OC allegedly awarded a contract to a British company without following proper procedures, a charge that is being denied by the organising authorities.

On top of all this, a number of athletes have said that they would rather stay away from the CWG. The list includes stalwarts like Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Fraser and Asafa Powell; tennis aces Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) and Andy Murray (Britain) and British cyclist Chris Hoy.

So will the show go on? One can only wait and hope.

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