September 28, 2010

Indian government blamed for Delhi chaos


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has blamed the Indian government for the chaos as complaints have kept pouring in from a number of teams about the poor state of the athletes' village for the 19th Commonwealth Games 2010 to be staged in New Delhi from October 3 to 14.

The preparations have also been hit by failures in the construction of venues. A bridge at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Commonwealth Games, collapsed leaving over 20 people injured. Then part of the ceiling at the weightlifting arena fell in the following day.

The Chief Executive of the CGF, Mike Hooper, has said that his organization should not shoulder the blame for the problems which have plagued the build-up to the event in Delhi.

He claimed that the repeated requests from the CGF's co-ordination commission earlier in the year to speed up construction fell on deaf ears.

"When we viewed (the Games village) in March it was clear it was a massive work in progress and a lot of work had to be done," he told Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"Everybody including the chefs de mission who came from all the teams were aware of the construction status. We kept getting shown the various model units that had been done and assured. Yes, we realize we are on a tight schedule but we will all get it done and delivered to the same standard,” he stated.

"Again when the co-ordination commission visited in May, two months after the chefs de mission had been, they were given the same reassurances. The co-ordination commission stated publicly in its press release that it put out that a key concern and key issue was the readiness in particular of the Games village.,” Hooper disclosed.

"All the warning signs were there. We were pushing very hard, we kept pushing. You can lead a horse to water you can't make it drink. These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem. There were consistently missed deadlines. The government agencies have let everybody down over here as regards meeting those deadlines. But that said we have to make it the best it can be and that's what we're all hoping to do now,” he added.

England’s chef de mission, Craig Hunter, made the following observation after landing there. "It's not perfect. But we are where we think the accommodation is acceptable for us. The village had the potential to be five star, there's no doubt about that. We're at about three star at the moment. It's by far from being perfect but it is at a level that we think is acceptable and appropriate for athletes to come to an event and to compete."

The village faced further criticism with Indian boxer Akhil Kumar's bed reportedly collapsing when he sat down on it.

"We reached the Olympic Bhavan late in the afternoon to collect our accreditation cards. But when I sat down on my bed to take rest, it collapsed," Kumar, who will compete in the 56kg category at the Games, was quoted as saying.

Two more Australian athletes have withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games because of security and health concerns. Cyclist Travis Meyer and table tennis player Stephanie Sang became the second and third Australians to pull out of the event, following world discus champion Dani Samuels.


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