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'A lot of damage has been done to India's image'

Last updated on: September 25, 2010 13:39 IST

Calling off the Games was never on CGF agenda

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CGF President Mike Fennell on Saturday said that everyone in the Commonwealth Games management has to share the blame for the lack of preparations ahead of the Delhi edition but hoped that they would overcome the problems in the next eight days for the successful conduct of the event.

Addressing a press conference a day after visiting the Games Village, Fennell said "considerable work has been done but still some more remains to be done."

But despite the controversy-marred build-up, Fennell asserted that calling off the Games "was never" on Commonwealth Games Federation's (CGF) agenda.

However, Fennell conceded that a lot of damage has been done to India's image. Flanked by embattled Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, Fennell said both India and the Commonwealth can learn a lesson from the shortcomings in organising the 19th edition of the Games scheduled October 3 to 14.

"The massive work that is being done now ought to have been done earlier," said Fennell.

"We all have to share the blame and responsibility. In any Games, there are a number of stakeholders, overall we have to ensure that we do everything to conduct the Games.

"Other Games have had problems and I believe that here also the problems would be sorted. A number of issues should have been and could have been avoided and that necessary corrective steps should be taken in good time," he added.


Image: A man carries brooms in front of a board advertising the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters
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'We are going to have good Games'

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"We are going to have good Games," he insisted. "A lot of damage has been done to India, which is the largest Commonwealth country. We need to learn lessons for hosting other events as well. This is part of the learning process. I hope India would have learnt a lesson, we would have learnt a lesson," he said.

Asked whether he felt let down by India, which won the hosting rights way back in 2003 but is in a desperate race against time to finish off the work, Fennell said, "We are disappointed in a number of things."

But the CGF boss said the time for blame-game was over and the focus should now be on conducting a safe and successful Games whatever be the scale of effort required.

"If we are committed to the same goal, we should not find faults and criticise each other because we all want that the Games are celebrated properly," he said.


Image: Nehru Stadium

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'I will take all the responsibility'

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His back against the wall, a defensive Kalmadi said he wished the venues had been handed to OC a little earlier. "I am the chairman of Organising Committee and I will take all the responsibility but I wish venues were handed to us a little earlier," he said.

Both Kalmadi and Fennell had to face a barrage of uncomfortable questions on India's under-preparedness and the OC chief, in particular, came in for extensive grilling by both the Indian and international media.

Despite Fennell's assertion that there has to be collective responsibility for the current crisis, Kalmadi insisted that the CGF boss did not mean to blame the OC.

"I don't think he has pointed the finger at the Organising Committee. The developer has to hand the venues over to OC and then it is our responsibility. As far as the Games Village is concerned, 18 towers were handed to us and we completed the work on time. The rest 18 were handed over late and that is where the problem is," he explained.

"As far as the security goes, we have been having meetings for the last couple of years. The home ministry and Lt Governer have been taking constant meetings. We have had a CGF adviser who has come every second month.

"The international chefs de mission have also found the security to be fine. The Jama Masjid (shootout) incident is not related to the Games. These are minor issues, blown out of proportion," he said.


Image: Suresh Kalmadi

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Problems to be rectified in the next couple of days

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However, Kalmadi did admit that there were shortcomings in the preparations but assured that they would be rectified in the next couple of days.

"There were deficiencies and in another couple of days we will finish all the work. We have some issues in the Games Village but I think it is a fine Village. Only that some blocks have to be cleaned up. But all infrastructures are good. The Games are going to be good. We are doing everything possible to your satisfaction.

"I can assure you that our aim is to host a good Games. Our aim is to do as good as Melbourne," he said.

Speaking about the Village, which was dubbed "filthy and uninhabitable" by international delegates a few days ago, Fennell reiterated that considerable improvements have been made.

"Matters relating to transport, security and evacuation of buildings. The technology difficulties like wi-fi service. Medical services and generally speaking all the matters that relate to living in the Village are being worked out.

"Following the action that has been taken by the government to ensure that the remedial work is done, I am very pleased to receive the news that the countries who were not convinced, have instructed their teams to travel to Delhi," he added.


Image: Nehru Stadium

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Shown solidarity with the CWG movement

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Fennell said while the work continues at the residential blocks, the international zone has turned out be brilliant.

"On a happy note, the international zone has been completed and it is in very good condition and is an excellent international zone. The dining room and kitchen are excellent. The food is good, we had a meal there and it was excellent," he said.

Fennell lauded the international chefs de mission for cooperating in cleaning up the Village.

"All the chefs de mission have been very critical of the arrangements. But they have worked very hard and personally done some cleaning up work at the Village. This is a demonstration, which is extremely positive. They are working extremely hard for their teams. They have shown solidarity with the CWG movement," Fennell said.

"The Organising Committee and the government departments have responded to the needs very well," he added.

Fennell said the CGF would be monitoring the progress of the preparations closely including security concerns and safety norms at the Village and at the venues.

"What is of great concern is the security of athletes and officials who would be at the Games Village. The fire systems and the alarm systems have to be in place. We are monitoring the situation carefully.


Image: Volunteers queue at the Nehru Stadium

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The responsibility lies with both the parties

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On whether the CGF has woken up late to Delhi's problems, Fennell said he has been pointing out issue all along. "When I came here in August, I spoke about the cleaning up that was required and that there were a lot of debris and mess that needed to be cleaned.

"The OC is responsible for it and they rely on developers to handle that. The OC did not develop the venues, they were handed over the venues," he said.

"The CGF entrusts the organisation of the Games on OC. That OC depends on agencies to build the venues. Those venues are handed over to OC during the Games. The responsibility lies with both the parties," he said.

Asked whether the venues and Games Village have the requisite safety certificates from government agencies, Fennell said, "To our best knowledge, the buildings are all certified."


Image: Workers work in fornt of a stadium

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'There would be full participation in the Games'

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The first batch of English athletes have landed here and they have based themselves in hotels instead of the Games Village, Fennell assured that they would soon be moving in to the Village.

"As soon as the apartments are clean and secure, they will move in. And this has been agreed that they will move in a phased manner. I am very happy that we are recording that there would be full participation in the Games," he said.

"The teams were very concerned about the well-being of their athletes. When we thought that we were not going at the right pace, I wrote to the Cabinet Secretarry. While it was very sad that some of this work had not been done before but efforts are on," he added.

Asked about the pullouts that have dogged the Games, Fennell said not all of them can be linked to security and health fears.

"Some of them have happened but there have been reasons and some of them have got nothing to do with Delhi. Some of them said it's October, they have to go to school, some were injured and son on," he said.


Image: England Team arrives at IG airport

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