Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five-star Hotels Assist in Cleaning CWG Village

Bringing heavy duty equipment and expert staff, top five-star hotel chains, including the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, are helping in the last-minute massive clean-up drive at the Commonwealth Games Village, officials said.

The hotel chains have come in along with their large housekeeping departments to help in cleaning the rooms at the athlete's village for the Games beginning Oct 3. "Heavy duty equipment have been moved in by five-star hotel chains," a diplomatic source said here Tuesday.

"Several flats had 'pan' (betel nut) stains. It was difficult to remove them with normal cleaning detergents," a CWG Organising Committee official said.

With all the teams set to arrive by Friday, officials are keeping their figures crossed and hoping that the village rooms will be ready before Friday. "We hope that with the hotel chains helping out, the rooms will be soon cleaned up," the official added.

The Games Village has faced a lot of criticism over the state of the residential zone - with photos of pan-stained bathrooms, muddy beddings and crumbling flats splashed all over the media.

It led to a massive outcry, after which the CWG Organising Committee along with the Delhi government had to finally scramble to get their act together for the cleaning up process.

The issue became further dire after diplomats of the Commonwealth nations got access to the residential zone over the last weekend.

Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies combined to save everyone the bother

There was immense relief last night when it was confirmed that the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi will be shortened to simply consist of a spectacular and colourful Opening Ceremony followed immediately by an impressive and moving Closing Ceremony.

Organisers decided to pull the plug on the competitive element of the event within hours of the electricity supply finally being connected, citing concerns that firstly the competitors’ accommodation at the Games Village may not stay standing for more than a few more days, and secondly because there’s only so long you can go before a trained monkey security guard cracks and goes for a recuperating athlete eating a banana.

The event, now being dubbed ‘a 15-minute extravaganza celebrating the modern legacy of the old British Empire’, will see pyrotechnics and massive-scale choreographed dance routines, followed by a presentation of the athletes marching around the potholed running track. There will then be a pause for international broadcasters to describe the electric atmosphere in the stadium and patronise local culture, before Prince Charles, representing the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, will declare the Games open, and then shut.

A spokesman for the BBC in Delhi said that the Corporation was not too disappointed at the decision. ‘A lot of our key presenters were already in a lot of trouble at home at the prospect of their sidling off for another fortnight’s jolly when they’ve barely got over their hangovers from partying it up at the World Cup,’ he noted, ‘But don’t worry, BBC standards will be maintained — we’ve already filmed a few Slumdog Millionaire comparison pieces for Children in Need, and if anything big does happen in the next couple of weeks, like a stadium collapsing, there’ll be plenty of coverage we can pick up from YouTube.’

Despite the British public’s outbreak of indifference to the decision Craig Hunter, chef de mission of the England team, said it was a shame that his athletes’ involvement would only amount to a quick trot around the running track. ‘The event’s been unlucky in being plagued with bureaucratic problems, clashes with other important sporting events, and unexpected fever outbreaks, meaning many of the finest competitors the Commonwealth has to offer decided to stay away. But it’s a shame they couldn’t have stuck with it anyway. I mean with no-one else here, I think there was a fair chance we might have actually won something.’

Dehli struggles to escape Beijing shadow

Stunning venues, near-flawless organisation and a table-topping performance: China dazzled the world with a 2008 Olympics that leaves India's troubled Commonwealth Games in the shade.

New Delhi's Commonwealth Games have been tagged the "Shame Games" by local media after a shambolic run-up to Sunday's opening that has reinforced the nation's reputation for inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, graft and squalor.

India's travails are a far cry from southern China's Guangzhou, where up to 12,000 athletes from 45 nations are expected to attend the Asian Games in November, two years after the Beijing extravaganza.

In glaring contrast to India, Guangzhou is quietly going about finishing preparations for the Asian Games -- the world's biggest sporting event after the Olympics.

Wu Yucheng, an official at the government's Guangdong Sports Bureau, said he was aware of the problems in Delhi but declined to elaborate.

"We have been planning for the Asian Games for seven years. So we started our preparation early. We have invested a lot of money in the Games and the city infrastructure," he said.

"In Guangzhou, you can look around and you will see that a lot of things are happening. Every day you see new changes in the city.... It is not only about the Games, but it is about the city."

Fifty-eight venues have been refurbished for the Asian Games and 12 more have been built from scratch. Finishing touches are being applied a month in advance, while venue personnel are in place, testing equipment and learning their roles.

Taking pride of place is the huge, gleaming Guangzhou Olympic Centre for track and field, swimming and equestrian events.

Other competitions will be held at a brand new Asian Games Town in a semi-rural part of the city, while the opening ceremony will take place at a newly-built amphitheatre in the Pearl River skyscraper district.

Against this, the multi-sport Commonwealth Games teetered on the brink of collapse last week as some nations threatened to pull out amid worries about security, a bridge collapse and the standard of accommodation and venues.

Problems with the Delhi Games also include an outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever and doubts about transport, fire and evacuation procedures and medical services.

All this has dashed the hopes of the country of a billion-plus people of showcasing itself as an emerging power and delivering an event to rival Beijing, analysts say.

Concern about the negative impact was expressed by a leading Indian business lobby group.

"It is a sad state of affairs indeed and, psychologically, puts a question mark against India’s capacity to deliver," said Amit Mitra, general secretary of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

But there are signs that things are coming together at the last minute as hundreds of competitors arrived this week to take up residence in the much-criticised athletes' village. As many as 5,000 athletes from 71 nations and territories formerly linked to the British Empire are expected.

It would also be a mistake to characterise Beijing's experience as flawless and it is too early to say whether there will be any last-minute glitches at the Asian Games.

Beijing enjoyed a huge boost to its infrastructure through developments such as new subway lines, but has struggled to find a role for iconic venues such as the Bird's Nest stadium and the Water Cube aquatics centre.

Wu said both Guangzhou and Beijing had taken a comprehensive view of organisational issues and admitted there had been problems in the run-up to the Asian Games.

The deputy secretary general of the Asian Games' organising committee, Gu Shiyang, underlined planning and local support as key factors.

"Good planning is one factor, but the most important factor is the support from the government and the citizens as well as state-owned enterprises and private enterprises, the support and participation from all walks of life.

"The educational considerations are also very important. We have 50,000 volunteers for the Asian Games. Most of these volunteers are from the colleges and universities. And also we have 500,000 city volunteers."

He said in the coming weeks all venue teams would be doing rehearsals and drills to make sure their venues operated smoothly.

Two more Aussies skip Delhi CWG due to injury

Australia have lost two more athletes from their Commonwealth Games  squad, with reigning discus gold medallist Scott Martin among two track and field competitors forced to pull out due to injury.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Australian officials as saying that Martin and hurdler Hayley Butler did not arrive with the rest of the athletics squad in Delhi early on Thursday morning after deciding to withdraw from the competition earlier this week.

Martin, 27, was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury to his pectoral muscle, robbing him of a chance to defend his discus title from Melbourne in 2006, when he also won bronze in shot put.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Butler stayed in Australia to recover from stress fractures in both feet.

She was to compete in the 100m hurdles alongside Australia's Olympic silver medallist Sally Pearson.

The pair followed fellow Australians Dani Samuels, Travis Meyer and Stephanie Sang in becoming late withdrawals, though the latter trio pulled out earlier this week due to concerns over security and health.

Commonwealth Games chief executive Hooper burned in effigy in New Delhi

Protesters took to the streets of the Indian capital Thursday for a second straight day of demonstrations, demanding a boycott of the Commonwealth Games that begin this weekend.

A coalition of more than 20 groups calling itself the "Anti-Commonwealth Games Front" demanded a boycott of the Queen's baton relay and the Games, due to open here Sunday. They were holding placards reading "boycott the poverty games" and "we want schools, not stadiums."

About 100 people demonstrated 500 metres from the organizing committee's office in central Delhi.

On Wednesday, Indian activists, upset with what they claimed were racist remarks by Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper, burned an effigy of the New Zealander and shouted slogans.

Carrying signs that said "Racist Hooper Go Back," the crowd was upset that Hooper, who has lived as an official observer in Delhi for more than two years, had reportedly made remarks blaming the Indian population for poor preparation that included incomplete venues and unlivable conditions at the athletes' village when some delegations began arriving last week. Hooper has denied making any offensive remarks, and has the backing of Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell.

With more than 100,000 police on duty in New Delhi as security for the Games, the protests were kept under control. And the scale of the security was likely to deter any large-scale repercussions in the capital of an Indian court decision in Lucknow, a 14-hour drive away. The Allahabad High Court ruled Thursday that a disputed holy site in the town of Ayodhya should be split between the Hindu and Muslim communities.

Conflict over the site set off bloody communal riots in the past and India has sent hundreds of thousands of troops into the streets to keep order.

But the protests in new Delhi focused on the Games, with critics saying India is a poor country and cannot afford it. Costs for building infrastructure and venues for the event have blown out from original estimates of U$100 million in 2003 to reportedly more than US$3 billion.

"This is an anti-poor, anti-labourer, anti-public drama of 10 to 15 days that will make people struggle for years," said Jawahar Singh, who heads a group working for the cause of slum dwellers.

"Many people have lost their homes, many have lost their livelihoods. These games are against those very workers who have built the city," he said in Hindi.

According to a World Bank estimate, more than 800 million Indians survive at less than US$2 a day.

Sunil Kumar, a youth leader, said no one was bothered about the fact that labourers were being exploited for the games, including the workers injured last week when a pedestrian bridge being constructed near the main stadium collapsed.

"Two of the 27 labourers injured in the bridge collapse ... are still in coma," Kumar said. "One of those two (had) worked for 21 hours at a stretch before he got injured, according to the log maintained at the site."

While construction workers and cleaning staff attempted to put the finishing touches on venues and the athletes village, New Delhi was hit by its seventh road collapse this week, two of them near Games venues. The resulting large pot holes caused massive traffic jams.

Despite all the problems, dramatic cost overruns and the long delays in building venues, organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said he had not lost hope of bringing the Olympics to India.

"The biggest legacy (of the Commonwealth Games) is Olympics," said Kalmadi, who heads the Indian Olympic Association. "Cricket is the most popular sport in our country but it is played by just 10 countries. Olympics has all sports. We have to ensure that Olympics come up. This is our opportunity and CWG will help."

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge was due to visit some games sites Friday and will remain in Delhi for Sunday's opening ceremonies when Prince Charles will represent the Queen and officially open the event which runs until Oct. 14.

Meanwhile, Australia has lost two more members of its Games squad, with reigning discus gold medallist Scott Martin among two athletics competitors forced to pull out due to injury.

Women's discus world champion Dani Samuels was among three who withdrew last week citing concerns over security and health.

Steve Hooker, the pole vault Olympic and world champion from Australia, says he can't understand why some of the high-profile athletes that have pulled out.

Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt, the world and Olympic 100- and 200-metre champion, and Asafa Powell will not be in New Delhi.

Other notable absentees include South African runner Caster Semenya and English world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.

"It's a personal decision for everyone and I think everyone puts their own value on different competitions, but this is a competition I value very highly," Hooker said. "I personally can't understand a lot of the dropouts because this is something that I've been looking forward to a lot.

Delhi welcomes athletes to fortified capital

As the countdown to the Commonwealth Games moved into its final three days, athletes continued to flood into a heavily guarded Indian capital as the host of problems surrounding the event showed signs of easing.

More than 4,000 athletes have arrived in Delhi to find a city wrapped in a security blanket and a Games needing a last-minute government intervention to rescue the multi-sports gathering and prevent a huge embarrassment for India.

A visit to the venue by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge on Friday will provide a much-needed boost for organisers reeling from the logistical nightmare of trying to arrange India’s answer to the Beijing Olympics.

Shoddy construction and filthy toilets at the Games Village delayed the arrivals of several teams but the last-ditch efforts to improve the situation appears to be paying off.

“I reached here only last night but accommodation is as was expected and I’m looking forward to enjoying the next couple of weeks here,” Australia’s world champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker told reporters at the Games Village on Thursday.

To ensure the safety of the athletes, the Indian capital has been converted into a fortress with 100,000 security personnel, including commandos, snipers and police, virtually taking over the city.

MiG fighters and armed helicopters would be on standby for the Oct. 3-14 Games and Mi-35 attack helicopters would be airborne during opening and closing ceremonies, according to media reports.

Mobile surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns have also been deployed.

The $6 billion exercise was intended to display India’s growing economic and political clout, rivalling neighbour China, which put on a spectacular 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But an attack on tourists by suspected militants, a dengue fever epidemic, filthy apartments in the athletes’ village, and the collapse of a footbridge injuring 27 workers has forced India on the defensive.

Organisers also had to deal with a number of high-profile withdrawals including triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt of Jamaican and Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice.

Much to the organisers’ embarrassment, a snake was found in an athlete’s room while and an Indian boxer’s bed collapsed in the Games Village.

Outside the complex, homeless people who sleep on pavements have disappeared and beggars have been banished from the main streets of New Delhi.

The government has also promised to investigate reports of corruption in the awarding of lucrative contracts for the Games.

Top Indian sports persons check into Village

Beijing Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra and bronze medallist Vijender are among 464 Indian athletes who have checked into the Commonwealth Games Village, chef-de-mission Bhubneshwar Kalita said here Thursday.

Shooter Samresh Jung, the best athlete of the 2006 Melbourne Games, boxer Akhil Kumar, squash star Joshna Chinnappa and ace archers Dola Banerjee and Jayanta Talukdar were among those to check into the Village.

Kalita said the athlete felt the arrangements at the Village are the best and their stay comfortable.

Indian contingent has 640 beds in three towers. Each room is twin sharing and the rooms are airconditioned with attached bathrooms, washing machines and refrigerators.

Kalita said they have extended the arrival date of athletes till Oct 8.

Depending upon the schedules of different disciplines, we have extended the entry date of sportspersons till Oct 8.

There is a huge dining hall where Indian cuisine, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, is served. There is a poly-clinic, with expert medical staff, and no case of any major disease has been reported there, he said.

The Village is spread over an area of 63.5 hectares and has a total of 34 residential towers. It has 1,168 apartments with 4,008 bedrooms.

Kalita hoped India would do far better than they did at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

During the last Commonwealth Games, India was fourth in the standing, but this time we want to get to the second spot. In any case, I am certain that we will not go below the third position.

Shera stamps sell like hot cakes in CWG Village

Unlike other post offices in the city, the one at the Commonwealth Games Village is doing brisk business. At the centre of attraction for foreign athletes is the set of Shera postage stamps, selling like hot cakes. The postal department opened a post office in the International Zone of the GamesVillage Sep 16 to provide a vend for speed post, registered post, ordinary mail and other services. It also houses a philately section where people can buy stamps.

India Post released four stamps - Shera, Queen's Baton, Talkatora Stadium and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium - commemorating the Games. Another stamp will be released Oct 3 on the opening ceremony of the 19th Games.

According to the postal officials, the stamps related to the Games are attracting large number of people.

"We have got an amazing response from athletes and delegates in the Games Village. We have sold stamps worth over Rs.14,000 in last one week. Majority of people are buying the Shera stamp having images of the Games mascot," Veerpal Singh, of India Post, said.    

Singh also said they are very happy with the overwhelming response from the players.

"India will be hosting World Philately Exhibition February and this is a sort of curtain raiser for us. We hope to do more business in the coming days," said Vipin Kumar, another staffer at  the Village post ofice.   

Brittany Teev, a tennis player from Cook Islands -- a net of 15 islands in the heart of South Pacific with a population of a mere 13,200 --  said: "I bought 10 Shera stamps as souvenirs for my friends back home. I have also bought lots of postcards having shera stamps to send message back home as it is the cheapest means of communication. The facilities here are brilliant."

Calling it one of the best stores in the Village, Alan Ritche from Scotland said: "It is awesome. The people in the store are so friendly that it is an experience of a lifetime."    

Some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 countries and territories are expected to attend the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, India's biggest sporting event after the 1982 Asian Games.

Kalmadi dares to dream, thinks India can host Olympics

India's weaknesses in staging multi-discipline sports events stood exposed during the crisis-hit run-up to the Commonwealth Games but Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi has still not lost hope of bringing the Olympics to the country. Kalmadi, who was speaking at the Global Sports Summit "Turf 2010" organised by FICCI, said organising good a Commonwealth Games would help the country organise the Olympics also.

"The biggest legacy (of CWG) is Olympics. Cricket is the most popular sport in our country but it is played by just 10 countries. Olympics has all sports. We have to ensure that Olympics come up. This is our opportunity and CWG will help," Kalmadi said.

India intends to bid for the 2020 Games but the Indian Olympic Association and the Sports Ministry have been at loggerheads on the issue. The Sports Ministry has said it's not aware about India's bid for the Olympic Games and no such effort can go ahead without the government's nod.

The embattled OC chairman also hit out at the critics of the Games and said he was ready for any inquiry post the Games.

"BBC showed the pictures of toilet with (paan) stains. But that shot was one month old. There are a lot of misconceptions. There has been talk of toilet papers of Rs 4000. But there is a box which has 100 papers and each one is of Rs 40.

"I am ready for inquiry. Inquiry must be held but I am looking after only the Games. My budget is Rs 1600 crores and not the 36,000 crores you yell," he said.

Talking about the Opening Ceremony on October 3 at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, it will be spectacular. "This opening ceremony will be seen by three billion people all across the world. It will be shown in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the United States has also shown interest. It will be watched by the whole world," he said.

"The baton will be handed to Prince Charles who will read out the Queen's message and then the President (Pratibha Patil) will address the gathering." Kalmadi, who is also the IOA President, said organising the Commonwealth Games has helped the Indian capital improve as a city by leaps and bounds.

"See the legacy. The city has gone ahead by 10 years. There are bridges, Metro train from Airport to Village, lot of bridges. So many things have happened. Games are only for 15 days but this infrastructure will remain. It will be for whole life. "The challenge is to use it post Games. And it's a challenge worldwide. I am also concerned about the medals. We should get maximum medals, we are playing at home," he said.

Around 1250 athletes to check into CWG Games Village today

A strong contingent of around 1250 athletes and officials is arriving in Delhi today to participate in the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi, thereby taking the total number of participants past 5500.

The contingent from England is the largest to arrive today with the 124-member team comprising of participants from swimming and other disciplines. The Papua New Guinea's contingent is the second largest with 119 athletes, followed by New Zealand with 94 athletes.

The Australian contingent of 87 members arriving today will have participants in hockey, tennis, squash, wrestling and boxing.

Among the other large teams arriving today are those of Canada (79), Mauritius (75), Bangladesh (59), Wales (42) and Malaysia (39).

Apart from these, officials and athletes from Sierra Leone, Kiribati, Singapore, Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, South Africa, British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Canada, St. Vincent and The Grenadines and Lesotho are also arriving today.

The contingent from Antigua and Barbuda will have participants from boxing, swimming, cycling and shooting. The hockey, squash and table tennis teams from Malaysia and the shooting team from Singapore are also arriving today.

The Chefs-de-Mission of Solmon Islands, Sierra Leone, Turks and Caicos Islands and Grenada will arrive along with international media contingent, to be a part of Delhi 2010.

Continuous power supply during CWG: Sheila Dikshit

Delhi  will not face any power cuts during the mega event Commonwealth Games 2010,  as measures have been taken to provide continuous power supply, said Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit.

Inaugurating a power sub-station at Mundka, Sheila Dikshit said, "Delhi will not face any power cuts. We are committed to providing uninterrupted electricity supply during the Games."

"In order to generate more electricity within the national capital, a joint venture company with NTPC and Haryana government has been formed," stated Dikshit.

The company will generate 1500mw power at its plant at Jhajjar in Haryana.

"Delhi would get 750mw out of the 1,500mw," she said, adding the sub station at Mundka has been set up to bring power to Delhi.

Established by the Delhi Transco Limited at a cost of 150crore, the 400kv sub station has been set up on a sprawling 100 acres plot and will provide power supply to west and north-west Delhi including to Delhi Metro.

"I have also asked the power department to install solar panels. So we ensure that we use clean source of energy," said Dikshit.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Delhi Metro increases manpower for Games

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation(DMRC) is also gearing up for the upcoming Commonwealth Games and has increased manpower at stations to ensure smooth movement of commuters from October 3-14.

''Additional house keeping staff has been already deputed at all the important stations and additional queue managers will be put up at all stations leading to the Games' venues,'' a DMRC spokesperson said.

Besides, about 250 scouts and guides and 153 Bangalore Metro trainees will be deployed at various stations for crowd control and management. The DMRC spokesperson added, ''Volunteers of the Metro Citizens' Forum have also been instructed to be more vigilant and devote their time at the stations whenever possible.'' A Metro official of the grade of Assistant Station Manager will also be posted at the control room of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for better liaison and coordination.

''Branding work related to the Commonwealth Games has been done at various stations, like Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Vishvavidyalaya, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, and Jangpura,'' he added.

Further, additional ticket counters with pre-vended tokens have been set up at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and Jangpura Metro stations.

CWG art works to welcome commuters at Metro stations

Special artwork has been created by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on the Central Secretariat-Badarpur corridor to welcome visitors during the Commonwealth Games.

''We chose this corridor since Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue for the Games opening and closing ceremonies, falls on this line,'' a DMRC spokesperson said today.

The DMRC has decorated the Central Secretariat, Khan Market, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Jangpura Metro Stations with special mural paintings, drawings and ceramic artworks to give the stations a distinct look.

Specially designed tile artwork with three dimensional effect has been done on the walls of the concourse area at the Jawaharlal Nehru Metro Station and the theme of the tile artwork on the 163 metre-long concrete walls on both sides of the concourse has been derived from the various sports events that will be held during the Games.

These include gymnastics, swimming, wrestling and athletics among others. ''A harmonious colour scheme in beige, rust and deep red colour has been used for optimal effect. The artwork on these handmade ceramic mural art glazed tiles has been created by using water jet cutting technology wherein it is possible to cut very hard tiles too to create precise and fine patterns,'' the spokesperson added.

The CWG mascot Shera has also been prominently displayed for better visual effect and appeal.

Besides, 16 panels have been put on display at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Metro Station briefing the commuters and visitors about the genesis of the Delhi Metro, details about engineering feats like the construction of Moolchand Extra-dozed bridge, Metro milestones, unloading of coaches that were brought from abroad through special aircraft and others.

''At the Central Secretariat Metro Station, two thematic modern artworks titled 'You are Here' and illusion have been created at the concourse and platform levels of the station,'' he said. 'You are Here' takes inspiration from the Delhi Metro network map and interprets it in a futuristic manner using mirrors giving the viewer a feeling of being at various places all at once.

Delhiites keen on getting on with the Games now

After being put off by all the mess about the Commonwealth Games, Delhiites now seem to be getting into a 'lets do it' spirit with a whopping 74 per cent respondents expecting Delhi to be a better place to live after the Games.

The key findings culled out from the FICCI CWG survey conducted this month with support of Global Business Operations, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, revealed that 69 per cent respondents believe the Games has catalysed the development of sports infrastructure in Delhi, which otherwise would not have happened.

Sixty one per cent respondents are of the firm view that CWG will lead to creation of job opportunities in the country. Most working professionals were confident that the event would boost industries like hospitality, tourism, sports goods manufacturers and infrastructure.

Almost 50 per cent of the people said they would go out and watch the Games but were not pleased with the marketing of the event.

Thirty one per cent believed CWG '10 will improve India's positioning as an international investment hub.

On how India will be remembered as a nation post CWG, 29 per cent of the respondents surveyed opined that India will earn the tag of being a good host.

Most of those surveyed held the view that Indian business houses should also contribute to the development of sports talent and sports industry in India.

In the analysis, Delhiites underlined the need to address corruption and unprofessionalism during sport selection; adequate job security to sportsperson; development of sports infrastructure should not be limited to metros and need for proper planning while organising such international events.

The survey drew responses from 321 people in Delhi-NCR region, of which 65 per cent were aged between 17-25 years and 35 per cent were working professionals comprising doctors, professors, state and central government employees, investors, businessmen and managers.

Wales arrive at CWG Village; first look makes an impression

Team Wales was all excited at its arrival at the Commonwealth Games village this evening, with school students putting up a colourful performance before them.

Team Official John Dallimore, who also heads the team of shooters, appreciated the good sites at the village. This was his third visit to Delhi and fifth official visit to India. There are 24 shooters in the Wales delegation.

He rubbished most of the negative reporting about the CWG 2010 by the Indian media and that back home as 'overhyped'. ''The information that has been coming out from our management has been positive and I am passing the same to my team. We are proud to be here,'' he said.

Mr Dallimore was also all kudos about the Indian shooters as he said his country was prepared, but felt India would be the best in the segment.

Talking about the facilities and arrangements at the Games village, he said the residential quarters were clean, spacious and very nice. ''We are happy with the facilities. Having visited six CWGs, I would have to say that this is the best,'' he told UNI post-welcome ceremony, while also appreciating the ambience at the Village. The chef de mission of Wales, Chris Jenkins, who had also visited Delhi earlier acknowledged the improvements made in the infrastructure and other amenities at the village and confessed ''now that the facilities have been upgraded, our focus has shifted to athletics''.

Mr Jenkins, however, emphasised that he would now like to see if the Organising Committee can maintain the improvements.

Pak Minister invited for CWG inauguration

India has formally invited Pakistan Sports Minister Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani along with those from other neighbouring countries, to attend the Commonwealth Games inaugural ceremony here on October 3, sources said here today.

However, it was not clear whether a formal invitation had been extended to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The sources, when asked whether Mr Qureshi had been invited, said he was ''welcome'' to come. The sources did not say whether a formal invitation had been extended to Mr Qureshi.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna also said in New York that Mr Qureshi was ''most welcome to witness some of the Games at least, and give us a chance to continue the dialogue.'' Asked whether any leaders from any other country had been invited, the sources said the Presidents of Maldives and Nauru and the Governor General of New Zealand had confirmed their participation.

Queen's Baton to enter Delhi tomorrow

The Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay will enter Delhi tomorrow from the neighbouring state Haryana after completing its 20,000 kilometers Indian journey.

The Baton passed through all 28 Indian states and seven union territories. It will reach the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee headquarters situated opposite Jantar Mantar on Jai Singh road in New Delhi in the afternoon, where it will be received by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejendra Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi.

Several events have been planned during the display of the baton at the OC headquarters.

According to an elaborate display plan made for it, the Baton would set on a three-day city tour on Friday.

During its movement, the baton will pass through Vijay Chowk, India Gate, Teen Murti Bhawan, Qutub Minar and Lotus Temple and on Saturday, it will visit Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, St Columba's School and athletes' Games Village.

The 1.9 lakh-km-long QBR's journey across 71 countries will culminate on October 3 at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium before the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

Do your bit as patriotic Indians': CWG Village Mayor to media

With more and more participant countries complementing the Commonwealth Games village and feeling at home therein, the Mayor of the village, Retd Gen Dalbir Singh today asked the media to ''do patriotic reporting as true Indians''.

When told that the foreign delegates were quite satisfied with the Games village and the improvements made at the last stage, Gen Singh exclaimed ''that is what is the truth''.

Having had enough share of negative reporting about the loopholes at the Village, Gen Singh was in mood to set things right as he beamed in the appreciation received from at least 15 countries.

''We have received complements from at least 15 countries that they are extremely happy with everything at the Village,'' he told UNI. ''Continuos efforts from our side are also on. We have been asking the Joint Commissioner of Police to ask his personnel to be more courteous, helping and take care of basic manners as wearing gloves while frisking the guests,'' he informed.

With a Defence background, Gen Singh did not miss out on the opportunity to introduce himself as a true spirited Indian and likewise inculcate the very basic nationalistic nuances in the Indian media, when he said, ''I have a bullet in my thigh. But still I am working for my country. I am taking care of everything.'' ''You also as true Indians do your bit. At least you (the media) can report genuinely positive aspects, which is the only truth about the Village and the Games as of date,'' he added.

City ready to welcome CWG guests

With only a couple of days left for the grand start of Commonwealth Games (CWG), UT administration  is prepared to welcome the sports tourists. The administration and private operators in the hospitality sector have laid out lucrative discounts on room rents and menu. The tourism department has elaborated plans to hold regular cultural evenings at Sector-17 Piazza.

Talking to The Times of India, Chandigarh Hotels and Restaurants' Association secretary Gurwinder Juneja says at least 30 leading hotels and restaurants would offer up to 20% discount on room rents. 'Various food festivals featuring dum-pukht, lahori, Indian traditional delicacies and special ice-creams and dessert items would also be held,' he adds.

Besides, the department has invited renowned singers and artistes from across the country to perform regularly at Sukhna Lake and Piazza. CITCO general manager (tourism) AK Malhotra says Hotel Mountview, Shivalikview and Parkview would offer discount up to 20% on room rents and food items. 'We have printed attractive brochures of city tourist and heritage buildings for distribution among the visiting enthusiasts arriving by Shatabdi and airways,' he adds.

He further says they would beautify and illuminate the tourist attractions and heritage buildings to lend them aesthetic look during night. 'We have installed huge cut-outs of CWG mascot Shera at the Sukhna Lake. More would be set up at Sector 17 and other places.'

Besides, UT administration has also doled out short-term and two-day sight-seeing packages for Shimla, Kasauli, Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar and Wagah border. 'Short-duration trips would be organized for them to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of Nepli and Kansal forests here,' says another official.

Eco-friendly rickshaws emerge as OOH medium

Eco-Activate plans to increase the number of E-rickshaws to 40 in October. Each rickshaw has an ad-space of about 180 sq. ft.

'Green Delhi and Clean Delhi' has long been the motto of the Delhi government. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), along with Eco-Activate and Vodafone, has rolled out E-rickshaws - a much awaited, battery powered and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

E-rick, developed by Eco-Activate, offers a pollution free alternative mode of transportation in the national capital. Coming on the heels of the Commonwealth Games, these hybrid rickshaws have become an addition to the out of home (OOH) industry. Telecom service provider Vodafone is making an attempt, by associating with this project, to make a positive contribution towards conserving the environment.

The E-rick has a total advertising space of 180 sq. ft inside and outside and as part of the CSR initiative, the company has branded the entire fleet. "Partnering with this project is our way of making a positive contribution towards environment conservation," says Sanjay Warke, chief executive officer, Vodafone Essar Mobile Services, Delhi Circle. The branding on the vehicles has ensured enhanced visibility for Vodafone across the city.

Currently, there are about 25 such rickshaws running on five routes (five per route). These routes are Chandni Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya, Saket, Greater Kailash-II (GK-II) and Aurobindo Marg.

The routes have been identified keeping in mind commuter traffic across the city. "Areas such as Chandni Chowk are extremely congested and there is a need to provide alternate modes of transport," says Warke. They are also available in the North Campus area to facilitate students in and around the campus. Residential areas such as Saket and GK-II have E-rickshaws plying to ease traffic.

The company plans to increase the existing fleet to 40 vehicles in October and also plans to raise the fleet by 100 vehicles by the end of the year. The company has already tied up with MCD and is in an exclusive contract with it for 2000 vehicles.

It is also learnt that later, E-rick vehicles will run on routes such as Vikas Marg, Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, Janak Puri District Centre, Rajouri Garden, Karol Bagh and several other areas. These are expected to serve as the feeder service for the Delhi's Metro services.

Talking about the association with E-rick, Warke says, "It's the uniqueness of this initiative that influenced our decision to partner with Eco-Activate. The timing of the launch was apt, with the Commonwealth Games around the corner."

The vehicles also come with unique features such as GPRS devices that will ensure safety of passengers unfamiliar with the capital. Additionally, aspects such as drivers who speak English are bound to make travel more convenient for those not familiar with the local language.

Seating about two-three people, an E-rick ride in South Delhi area (Saket, GK-II and Aurobindo Marg) will cost Rs 15 per person per ride and in Vishwavidyalaya and Chandni Chowk, the charges are Rs 10 per person per ride.

Touted as the solution to Delhi's chronic traffic problem, E-rick is a hybrid service powered by batteries and aims to ensure reduction in carbon footprint with zero emissions. The battery needs 6 -8 hours of charging, after which it can power the rickshaw for 90 kms. The vehicle can cruise at a top speed of 25km/hour.

The production cost of an e-rickshaw is about Rs 1.75 lakh. The drivers for the E-rick are hired either through a manpower agency or are existing pedal pushers, who are paid minimum wages as applicable (about Rs 5000-6000 per month).

The safety measures taken to build the rickshaws make it not only safe for the environment but also for passengers. The rickshaws are made of Polyethylene - an elastic material which prevents overturning in case of collision.

Incidentally, E-rick fleets were present at a number of international events such as the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens; the Expo 2005 in Japan; and the 2006 Football World Championship in Germany.

Similar fleets were also used for very successful campaigns such as the Expo 2008 in Saragossa, Spain; the presidential elections in the US in 2008; and the Incredible India campaign in Japan (September 2008).

Thousands of Games volunteers quit: report

Indian press reports say up to 10,000 of the 22,000 Commonwealth Games volunteers have quit, just three days before the event starts.
The Times of India newspaper says volunteers have walked away because of poor training and motivation, unglamorous assignments, and random allocation of responsibilities.

Unnamed officials have told the paper that some volunteers have left without returning their free Games uniforms.

The situation has led to private parties having to step up their contribution to the volunteer efforts.

"We are doing all that has been asked of us," said Abhijit Sarkar, spokesperson for Sahara group, which has provided volunteers at Indira Gandhi airport and the athletes village.

An official associated with the volunteer program claimed that all of the volunteers had turned up at the athletes village, even though there have been complaints of no-shows.

The paper says there is now concern over how the event's logistics will be affected by the lack of volunteers.

Scottish team building and settling well at Delhi base

Home Nations athletes appeared to be putting concerns over their accommodation in the Games Village firmly behind them yesterday to focus on preparations for the Commonwealth Games which open in Delhi on Sunday.
The build-up of athletes from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is gathering pace and those who have already arrived seem satisfied with the village facilities.

Games organisers, responding to complaints that rooms in some of the accommodation blocks were dirty, have had up to 4,000 people working around the clock to get the accommodation ready as competitors from across the world arrive in Delhi.

The accommodation initially allocated to Team Scotland athletes was branded unfit for human habitation.

But Team Scotland head of media Katriona Bush said accommodation for the Scottish athletes was up to an "acceptable standard" and athletes were now able to concentrate on their preparations. "People are settled and happy. Our athletes have started training and getting focused on their events," she said. "However we are still concerned that facilities are up to standard in all the accommodation blocks. We are joining forces with other nations in an effort to ensure that it (accommodation) is the same for everyone."

A further 42 members of Team Scotland from lawn bowls, boxing, wrestling and rugby sevens arrived at the Games Village yesterday. That took the number of athletes already in Games Village accommodation to 161 out of an overall team of 191.

The group of 42 had originally been due to arrive last Thursday but were delayed because the Games Village rooms were not clean enough to move into at that point.

Freestyle wrestler Tracy Connell, one of the Scottish athletes affected by the delayed arrivals, said: "I'm really thrilled to finally be in Delhi and looking forward to getting started with training. We've explored some of the village and so far everything looks great."

Andrew Turnbull, of the Scotland rugby sevens squad, said: "We didn't come expecting five-star accommodation. Our apartments are really nice and the food is good so we have no complaints."

Beggars, homeless and Delhi's slums 'disappear'

TENS OF thousands of beggars, homeless people and daily wage earners have either fled India’s capital New Delhi or been hounded out of the city ahead of the troubled Commonwealth Games that open there on Sunday.

Armies of hawkers who for years have zig-zagged through the traffic selling magazines, mobile phone accessories, pens, balloons and even elaborate sculptures have disappeared overnight without explanation.

An unknown number of labourers, the majority without identification papers – only a tiny number of Indians have them – have been coerced by police and local officials into leaving Delhi or staying at home, under threat of arrest and imprisonment on a raft of nebulous Victorian-era charges such as vagrancy and loitering.

“I have been unemployed for the past month because of the games and opted to return to my village in Uttar Pradesh province, as there is a good chance I might be arrested even if I move around the city,” said Subhash Gupta, a painter and whitewasher.

The games have ensured that the poor get further trampled upon, he lamented, dismissing the event as a “curse”.

Mr Gupta also claimed that Indian Rail was “actively conniving” in this mass exodus from the city by turning a Nelson’s eye to ticketless travellers, an allegation that could not be confirmed.

Delhi’s more than 1.4 million homeless people have simply vanished, presenting an image of a prosperous city with no indigent underbelly to the visitors from 71 Commonwealth nations.

“If I was poor I would abuse the games,” said retired Maj Gen Sheru Thapliyal.

“I am not [poor] but I still find no merit in them and the chaotic and wasteful preparations that have gone into making them happen.”

Delhi’s slums, which comprise about 30 per cent of the city, have either been hidden behind massive hoardings announcing the games or ringed by hastily planted bushes, most of which were already wilting yesterday.

Open sewers alongside newly constructed roads and facilities for the games have been similarly disguised, but little has been done about the fetid odour they emit.

And a posse of urban cowboys have managed to rid the city, or at least the parts associated with the games, of hundreds of cows that routinely squat proprietorially on roads, causing traffic chaos and, often, accidents.

Over decades there was little effort to rid the city of the animals – as many were owned by professional wrestlers whom few wanted to tangle with – and because numerous neighbourhoods were content with the easy availability of cheap milk at their doorstep.

The capital’s well-heeled have opted to holiday abroad until the games end on October 14th, as all the city’s educational institutions will remain closed.

Severe traffic and security restrictions aimed at smoothing the movement of Commonwealth athletes and officials will ensure attendance at most workplaces remains low during the sporting event, making it the ideal opportunity for a holiday.

Billed as an economically resurgent India’s coming out party, the Games’ organisers – beset by problems such as security, unfinished stadia and unhygienic and shoddy accommodation for athletes – are bent on presenting a rosy, but unreal portrayal of Delhi.

“The games were meant to be a participatory event for the city, one to be enjoyed,” said university lecturer Neelkamal Puri. Instead, they had ended up being antagonistic, restrictive and anything but fun, she added.

Cops crack the whip, fine 400 lane violators

As the Commonwealth Games  draws closer, the traffic police have cracked the whip on those entering dedicated Games lanes. Over 400 motorists were issued challans on Wednesday. This is more than double the daily average so far since the new provision for a Rs 2,000 fine was implemented. The dedicated lanes, meanwhile, continued to cause congestion on arterial roads forcing several office-goers to stagger their work hours.

The situation will remain similar on Thursday, as the routes connecting six key venues — Games Village, Games hotels in Chanakyapuri, JLN Stadium, IG Stadium, Major Dhyanchand Stadium and IGI airport — will remain out of bounds from 8am to 8pm. Roads leading to some other venues including Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, RK Khanna and Thyagaraj Stadium were also blocked for brief durations during the day to facilitate movement of athletes.

The roadblocks led to jams on several stretches, including Mathura Road, Ring Road, DND, Kamal Attaturk Marg, SP Marg, Africa Avenue Marg and Lodhi Road. ''I was stuck on the DND toll road for more than 40 minutes because of a major jam at Ashram. I have requested my office for flexible work hours now and plan to avoid the peak hours by reaching work by 8am and returning before 6pm,'' said Pulkit Singhal, a resident of South Extension.

The traffic police said that with over 1,000 more athletes having arrived in the city on Wednesday, the intensity of movement of Games traffic has increased. This has made it more important to ensure that the Games Lane is clear at all times. ''Overall, the compliance with Games Lanes has been credible for Delhiites. There is discomfort but people have been cooperating with the restrictions imposed. But with the number of athletes and movements increasing, it is important to ensure discipline on the roads and keep the passage clear for Games traffic,'' said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

Meanwhile, a 42-year-old pedestrian, a labourer, was injured when a Commonwealth Games car hit him on the dedicated Games lane in the Dhaula Kuan on Wednesday morning.

1500 volunteers to help police manage traffic

In what could be seen as an attempt by Delhiites to come forward and show their enthusiasm for the Commonwealth Games, 1500 volunteers will help the Delhi Traffic Police  regulate traffic from October 1 till the Games end. These volunteers, trained by Delhi Traffic Police, will be distinctly dressed in T-shirts, caps, and reflective jackets and will be seen all over the city at various road junctions. Of these, 600 volunteers are from Nirankari Mandal.

The volunteers, who came from different backgrounds and comprise mostly youngsters, responded to Delhi Traffic Police's call for volunteers mainly through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. ''A friend and I decided to volunteer together. We want to stay true to Indian tradition of 'athithi devo bhava'. This is our time to make India shine,'' claimed 21-year-old BBA student Nishant Bhardwaj.

Some of them were homemakers or with private jobs who had taken time off to extend their services. But what was uniform was the palpable excitement in the volunteers for playing a part in the Games. ''This is a great opportunity for India and we are doing this out of commitment to social work. Though the Games have been riddled with problems, we need to think positive and make it a success,'' claimed Vaibhav Sharma, a first-year MBA student and a volunteer.

These volunteers have been through three briefing sessions by the traffic police where they were trained in rules and regulations, the dedicated lane traffic rules as well as the different categories of vehicles of players, media, dignitaries as well as other vehicles that will be plying in the blue lanes. They have also been taught to direct traffic during emergency situations like when there is a glitch in the traffic lights or there is heavy traffic flow.

Cops hasten setting up of card readers

To expedite the process of installing accreditation card readers at all the entry gates to the Commonwealth Games venues, a team of Delhi  Police officers visited the OC office inside the Village late on Tuesday night to collect data of all the people who have been given accreditation cards. The data is being given to ECIL so that it could be fed into card readers that will monitor entry and exit of people.

The move came a day after TOI reported that card readers have not been installed at entry and exit points of venues, as granting access without them may pose a security threat.

Union home minister P Chidambaram during his visit to the police headquarters on Tuesday also raised the issue and asked ECIL and Delhi Police to fix the problem.

ECIL officials said feeding the data into the card readers within three days was an uphill task. "In case the project is not completed, we may install the card readers only at certain strategic locations. Other places will have CCTV cameras and entry will be allowed through manual verification," said an ECIL officer.

Gurgaon catches Games fever as baton arrives

The Queen's Baton for the Commonwealth Games 2010 reached the Millennium City on Wednesday amidst great pomp and show. Deputy commissioner R K Kataria received the baton after it crossed the Jhajjar-Gurgaon border near Farrukhnagar.

The baton was then carried in an open vehicle to Gurgaon's Nehru Stadium where it was welcomed by schoolchildren and villagers who stood guard holding the Tricolour. The DC handed it over to finance minister, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, minister of state for agriculture and cooperatives, Sukhbir Singh Kataria, and Haryana director general of police, Ranjeev Dalal.

Kataria said the state government announced cash prizes of Rs 15 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for Haryana players who win gold, silver and bronze medals at the upcoming Games. Several Arjuna awardees, Bhim awardees and Dronacharya awardees were present at the function at Nehru Stadium.

Arjun awardee, athlete Bhim Singh said, ''The arrival of the baton has filled us with enthusiasm. Sportspersons from Haryana will win lots of medals for India. I expect at least 50 medals from team India.'' Bhim awardee, gymnast Poonam Chabra said, ''I feel honoured to be part of the Baton Relay. I wish the Indian team good luck and I am sure they will make us proud.''

After halting at Nehru Stadium, the Baton headed to Tau Devi Lal Stadium before reaching Dhanchiri Camp at Delhi-Gurgaon toll plaza, where a colourful cultural programme was organized in the evening.

Lt General Raj Kadian, head of the Baton Relay Run in India, said the 100-day journey of the Baton in India was nearing completion. Kadian said the message of Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth of Nations, scribbled on the baton had not been read by anyone till now as it was covered with an 18-carat gold leaf. It will be unveiled and read out to sportspersons during the Games opening ceremony.

The baton will be handed over to the Delhi government on Thursday as it completes the last leg of the relay.

Race against time to fix scoring gear

It's a race against time for the Commonwealth Games  organising committee (OC) and Swiss Timing, the international firm chosen to install the timing scoring result (TSR). The deadline for TSR installation is Friday and sources said most venues are yet to get the required equipment.
The TSR, incidentally, is the single most important equipment for the Commonwealth Games as it's crucial in computing event results. The system includes the On Venue Result (OVR) system and the Games Time Sports Equipment.

Compounding the problem is the tight security at the venues, said the sources. ''Equipment for installation of the system has to be sent to the venues across the city. But security is so tight that getting access to the venues is a major problem. Many people working on the project have not got the required accreditation,'' they said.

Shortage of vehicles with venue access permits (VAPs) has only added to the delay, said officials. The police are only allowing vehicles with VAPs to enter the venues. The TSR installation team is apparently scrambling to resolve the problem.

For the TSR to work effectively, a whole range of sports equipment like photo finish cameras, swimming touch pads, therma sensors, scoreboards etc needs to be set up.

The TSR system was to be commissioned in the last week of September. Games officials had then claimed that the late date of commissioning was not a problem, especially as it had cut down on the rental that the OC was paying for the use of the TSR. The argument given was that commissioning the TSR would take only a few days as it required little testing. The OC had instead set up test labs to simulate Games-time situation.

Interestingly, TSR installation was delayed as some of the equipment were used in the Youth Olympics in Singapore and could be made available only after August-end.

The OC had received additional funds of Rs 687.06 crore specifically for the overlays from the government with the rider that the TSR should be operational one month before the Games.

Can’t shut eye to rampant corruption: SC on CWG

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Commonwealth Games project has bred corruption and is meant for public purpose only till October 14 — the closing day of the Games — after which “everything” will be used for “private purpose”.

“Till October 14, Commonwealth is a public purpose — thereafter, everything will become private purpose,” a Bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly observed.

Declaring that it would not shut its eyes on the “rampant corruption”, the court criticised the government on its preparations for the international sporting event.

The court cited the recent collapse of the new foot-overbridge near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium like a “pack of cards” as an example of the quality of the infrastructure work done for the Games.

“In this country, payments are made without work being done. The newly constructed bridge collapsed like a pack of cards,” the Bench said. “Rs 70,000 crore is involved. There is rampant corruption. We cannot shut our eyes,” the court said.

The oral observations were made during the hearing of a case filed by the Archeological Survey of India, highlighting government lapse in permitting certain buildings to exist near Jantar Mantar against ASI’s monument conservation laws.

Semenya out of Commonwealth Games, Ticket Sales Poor, by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder

The Commonwealth Games  has a long and storied past. The matches in athletics alone have been amazing. The 2010 version, which opens this weekend, is having both media  and security problems. Neither of those have helped ticket sales, which are at a paltry 200,000 out of an estimated 1.7 million tickets available.Security concerns have kept many athletes away. While UK athletics and many other teams have kept a stiff upper lip, elite athletes have several concerns: security issues, the absolute exhaustion many face at the end of a ten month season, and how to prepare for 2011-2012.India has huge potential in the global sporting world. They have had some outstanding athletes in track & field, and I believe we will see many more to come. They apparently understand cricket there as well, which, I assume, like American baseball, is a wonderful excuse to watch a sporting event while consuming adult beverages in a warm climate.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games are not getting a break now. Caster Semenya, the World Champion from South Africa, has pulled out of the Games. Citing a continuing back injury, her team SA announced her withdrawal earlier today.

EME NEWS (SEP 29, 2010)

Semenya out, Mokoena still possible
JOHANNESBURG (RSA): South African media are confirming the bad news. 800 m world champion Caster Semenya will not compete in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The South African team management said they would not risk the health of Semenya, who has apparently been suffering with the ailment for some time now, and had taken the decision in the interests of the athlete. Semenya had reportedly been struggling with a lower-back problem, but a scan done showed the injury was more serious than first thought. Final decision of former World indoor champion in long jump Khotso Mokoena is expected in few days time.

Tamgho is the male Rising Star
LAUSANNE (SUI): World indoor record holder in triple jump with 17.90 French Teddy Tamgho is the 2010 winner of the men's European Athletics Rising Star of the Year Award presented by MONDO. He is succeeding his countryman sprinter Christoph Lemaitre who won this trophy a year ago. The Frenchman became the third longest jumper in history after breaking his national record with a 17.98 effort at the New York Diamond League meeting on 12 June. Only world record holder Jonathan Edwards (18.29) of Great Britain and Kenny Harrison (18.09) of the USA have jumped farther than the 21-year-old. Although he could only finish a frustrating third at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona Tamgho has been the triple jump sensation of the year. Writes European Athletics. He is also Samsung Diamond Race winner. Second place for Spanish long jumper and multi-talented Eusebio Caceres ahead of Poland´s shot put Youth Olympic Games winner Krzysztof Brzozowski.

Mbango must wait
MONTE CARLO (MON): IAAF approved four top athletes nationality switches. US Hurdler Tiffany Ofili can represent Great Britain from September 5 this year. Former track runner Michael Aish is now marathon runner and is switching from New Zealand to USA from July 22 in 2011. Olympic triple jump winner 2004 and 2008 Francoise Mbango will be able to represent France (formerly Cameroon) only from April 23 in 2013. That means no Daegu or London for France. Poland´s walker Sylwia Korzeniowska (sister of famous Robert Korzeniowski) is in similar position and able to represent France from June 1, 2013.

Icelandic talent with Swedish coach
REYKJAVIK (ISL): Respected Swedish coach Agne Bergvall (coaches also Carolina Kluft) signed the Icelandic talent Helga Margrét Thorsteinsdottir to be her coach. Helga was the fisrt Icelandic youngster in history to get a medal at the WJC in Canada this summer when she got a bronze in the heptathlon. Agne will be her main coach but to begin with she will continue to live in Iceland as she is still in school for one more year. During that time her first coach Gudmundur Hólmar Jónsson will carry on the daily training. Vesteinn Hafsteinsson will be her manager (in his group for example discus olympic winner Gerd Kanter) and will as well coordinate the work with Agne and her club at home. Thorsteinsdottir scored this year 5878 points in heptathlon what is also national senior record.

Heltne gets two years
MONTE CARLO (MON): Two new interesting doping cases from IAAF. Romanian shot putter Anca Heltne was positive at National Indoor Championships on February 27 and is banned for two years until March 31, 2012. She will lost bronze medal from European Cup Winter Throwing in France (promotion for Russian Anna Omarova from fourth to third) and also 7th place from World Indoor Championships in Doha. Talented US 400 m runner Michael Berry was initially banned for 3 months for cannabis during US Junior Championships on June 26. This was later reduced to time served upon the successfull completion of USADA educational program. That allowed him still to compete at World Junior Championships in Moncton in the winning US 4x400 m team. Later on August 1 he clocked his PB 46.13 while winning the US Junior Olympics in Sacramento.


SOFIA (BUL): Pity in Bulgaria. Seven meters are missing in the new multisports hall in Sofia to be able to have a track. National Department of Physical Education and Sports is still considering options, it is not a financial question, Bulgarian media are writing. The situation in Sofia in regard to indoor training and competitions is not good. The classic Festivalna Hall is under reconstruction which is not finished yet and is missing financial backing.

LEXINGTON (USA): World´s fastest 100 m runner in 2010 Tyson Gay writes on his twitter that another top US sprinter Travis Padgett is coming to Florida to train with his group. Padgett has a 9.89 best from 2008 and clocked in 2010 as fastest 10.10. He has two sub 10 legal times in his record.

LONDON (GBR):  David Higgins has resigned as the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to take up the same role at Network Rail, writes insidethegames. Higgins, former chief executive of construction firm Lend Lease and English Partnerships, will succeed Iain Coucher. The ODA's director of finance Dennis Hone will replace Higgins, who will stay on in his post until February 1, 2011. "It has been a privilege to lead the ODA over the last five years and I am leaving with the Olympic Park on time, within budget and with the finish line in sight," said Higgins, who earns £394,999 per year.

NEW DELHI (IND):  Manish Kumar, head of press operations for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, has been sacked following a series of rows regarding the distribution of media accreditation passes. Insidethegames informs. Kumar, who is also a deputy director general of the Organising Committee, was handpicked from the private sector to work for the organising committee by Chairman Suresh Kalmadi. He has been replaced as head of press operations by Manjushree Roy who has been transferred around the Organising Committee five times in the past year.

CHICAGO (USA): American marathon hope Ryan Hall has withdrawn from the Chicago Marathon on October 10th. Hall was aiming at breaking the American record during his Chicago run but doesn't feel ready after a disappointing run in September at the Philadelphia Half Marathon  and some poor workouts in the last couple of weeks.

MOSCOW (RUS): In an interview with Reuters Sergey Bubka confirmed he is sure Yelena Isinbayeva will return to top form rapidly during the indoor season and will again dominate her event. Isinbayeva took an indefinite break earlier this year, a decision Bubka backed. "She will be back at her best, I don't see any problems or any obstacles. She competed for so many years, she is very professional, very committed." Bubka was quoted. Isinbayeva will return to competition in February 2011.

NEW DELHI (IND): The Indian Tourism Minister Kumari Selja has blamed the negative media coverage around the Commonwealth Games for the disastrous ticket sales. According to Insidethegames only 200,000 tickets of the 1.7 million have been sold so far, only achieving 10% of the revenue target from ticket sales. Hockey, one of India's most popular sports, has received 30% of all sales.

LONDON (GBR): Lord Sebastian Coe has dismissed claims that the London 2012 organizing committee has decided to finish the Olympic marathon in front of Buckingham palace instead of in the main stadium. The Olympic stadium is located in Stratford and it is claimed the organizing committee is embarrassed to show the area and its people. Traditionally the Olympic Marathon has its finish in the Olympic Stadium writes insidethegames.

MONTE CARLO (MON): IAAF received the news of the death of Khalid Abdullah Al Meer, a member of the IAAF Competition Commission and a former Vice President of Qatar Association of Athletics Federation (QAAF). Khalid Abdullah Al Meer, 55, of Doha, Qatar, died on Monday, 27 September. He leaves behind his beloved wife and 4 children. He will be laid to rest at the Abu Hamour burial ground, Doha. Throughout his life, Al Meer was actively involved in sports activities in general and Athletics in particular and held various positions during his 20 year career with the Qatar Athletic Federation. He retired from the federation in the year 2008, after serving as Vice President since 1996. He was Competition Director of the Doha IAAF Grand Prix from 1997 to 2008.

FRANKFURT (GER): One of top German sprinters Marion Wagner decided to continue in her career. The 32 years old Wagner was after Barcelona considering to end it. The main issue was her health situation which is now improved. For indoors she wants to help her team in relay and in the 200 m.

CHULA VISTA (USA): Retired legendary US pole vaulter Stacy Dragila two months ago became a mother, to daughter Allyx Josephine Waltz (father Ian Waltz is one of US top discus throwers).  "I have waited so long to experience that and it's a dream come true," Dragila said as per teamusa website. These days, she also spends a lot of time giving back to the sport. Last fall, Dragila and Waltz started the Altius Track Crew. She teaches kids everything they need to know about pole vaulting. And with the help of UCS Spirit, she is able to provide the kids with poles that fit them that their schools might not have. The first camp consisted of 40 high school kids, her goal is to grow it to 75 - 100 kids.

DALLAS (USA):  Michael Johnson Performance announced it has been named the Official Training Partner of the Dallas Cowboys. Through this unique partnership, Dallas Cowboys players and training staff will leverage the proprietary training programs and technology offered by Michael Johnson Performance (MJP). Informs Michael Johnson website.

MOSCOW (RUS): Russian running family is celebrating. Yelena Sidorchenkova (world class steeple runner) gave birth to a boy (3.4 kg, 51 cm). Father is multiple national champion Aleksandr Orlov.

SAN JOSE (USA): Olympic marathon medalist Meb Keflezighi will defend Rock 'n' Roll San Jose half marathon title at the fifth staging of the race on Sunday. Keflezighi is one of the top names in a field of more than 13,000 runners over a course which is recognised as the fastest in California and where he won in one hour ane exactly one minute a year ago.


PARIS (FRA, Sep 26): French in-shape Abdellatif Meftah won the 33rd edition of Paris-Versailles road race at 16.3 km after 48:40. Kenyan Miriam Wangari won the women category in 56:06. Informs RRW.

CAPE TOWN (RSA, Sep 26): South African marathon record holder Gert Thys (38) competed in his first marathon since his doping suspension ended (December 2008). He won the Cape Town Marathon in 2:22:12. His national mark from Tokyo 1999 is 2:06:33.

TATABANYA (HUN, Sep 25-26): Young Hungarian Bence Pasztor is confiming his throwing talent. The 15 years old athlete won three events at National U16 Championships. Shot put (4kg) with 18.53 what is national best, discus (1 kg) 56.56 and hammer (4 kg) 80.27 m.

KAARIKU (EST, Sep 25): Interesting experiment by Esthonian decathlete Anders Raja. He competed in heptathlon in women events with women heights and implements. He scored 7342 points after 12.7 at 100 m hurdles, 195 in high jump, 17.42 in shot put, 23.6 at 200 m followed by 679 in long jump, 53.48 with javelin and 2:08.4 in the 800 m. World record of JJK is 7291 points, Raja´s decathlon best is 8119 from Berlin World Championships.


LUKOVIT (BUL): Clarification to Bulgarian Athletics Federation elections. 76 out of 102 clubs were present. And all voted unanimously for Dobromir Karama

PC ticks off Kalmadi for CWG delays

In a veiled reference to the unfinished works at the Commonwealth Games venues, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the fact that some of the works to be done by other agencies had not been done had put an “extra burden” upon the security system.
“I am satisfied with the security arrangements we have put in place but not yet satisfied whether what others had to do has been done. Therefore it puts an extra burden upon the security system. We are trying to sort out those issues by today,” he said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi met Chidambaram on Wednesday evening. According to the sources, Kalmadi was pulled up by the Home Minister for the delays in handing over the Games venues to the security agencies. He was also told off with regard to the prevailing confusion over the issuing of accreditation cards and vehicle passes.

When asked to elaborate his remarks, Chidambaram said, “What is the point of elaborating? All of you know what has been done and has not been done. All I can say at this time is... keep your chin up and try to do the best so that fullproof security is provided. I can assure you that notwithstanding the difficulties, we will provide fullproof security at the Games venues and the Village.”

On whether there are any “credible threat” to the Games, the Home Minister said, “Credible and not credible are judgments. There have been statements which have come to our notice. But we take every piece of information seriously and have put counter measures in place. It would be wrong to say that there is credible threat.”

Chidambaram said that he had visited three Games venues — Siri Fort auditorium, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex and Talkatora stadium. Asked whether he was satisfied with the security arrangments, he said, “I am never satisfied. Things can always be better.”

Girls lured to Delhi Games for work being sold to brothels

UNDER-aged girls are being lured to Delhi for work at the Commonwealth Games, only to be sold into prostitution.

The Indian Government has issued an alert, after receiving numerous reports that girls from the country's poor tribal states are being exploited by sex-traffickers.

The advisory by India's Home Ministry, obtained by The Australian, says: "The victims are mostly those who are promised work in Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games by fraudulent placement agencies but instead are likely to be trafficked.

"Minor girls are the main target. Strict action is urgently required against those involved in such trafficking, both in the source, transit and destination areas."

Hundreds of young girls from poverty-stricken rural states are believed to have been successfully trafficked into the city's burgeoning number of brothels, massage parlours and escort agencies.

Kailash Pathak, from rural West Bengal, fears his 13-year-old daughter, Khushbu, is among them.

The Australian accompanied Mr Pathak this week as he searched seedy Delhi's red-light-district for any sign of her.

He said he had tracked down a man he claims stole his daughter and reported him to police. "I rang him and said, 'Have you taken my girl?' And he said, 'What if I have? What can you do about it?'"

The man, Pappu Bagel, confessed to The Australian from a police cell that he led Khushbu away from her home but denied it had been against her will.

Delhi's illegal but thriving prostitution racket has been gearing up for several months for the Commonwealth Games.

Several establishments have reportedly been running basic English classes for their workers and renovating premises for foreign visitors.

Inside one brothel, The Australian saw a large flat-screen television fitted to the wall.

"It's so we can watch the Commonwealth Games," a middle-aged female worker explained as two men worked on renovations in one of the adjacent tiled and toilet-sized rooms in which women ply their trade.

The woman said she had no under-aged workers in the brothel and did not tolerate traffickers peddling young girls.

Outside another nearby brothel, where a 16-year-old girl trafficked from Nepal was rescued by police just two days earlier, The Australian counted more than 100 men in the space of just 10 minutes descending the dingy, narrow stairs in packs of 20 or more.

Delhi police have raided a number of brothels in the city's red-light district in recent weeks.

A police superintendent from one inner-city district said about 80 young girls had been seized from brothels and traffickers in the past six months.

Nishi Kant, from Delhi-based anti-trafficking network Shakhti Vahini, said his organisation had rescued 54 under-aged girls from the red-light district and the nearby New Delhi railway station in the past six weeks.

"The traffickers tell the girls and their families that they can get them good jobs in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games, but once they land here they're trafficked to various suburbs of Delhi and forced into prostitution," he said.

"The Commonwealth Games has become a disaster in the context of child-trafficking because we're seeing a clear rise in the number of cases."

Metro steps to tackle Games rush

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has taken a host of measures to provide easy access and comfortable travelling to commuters during the Commonwealth Games.

According to DMRC officials, about 250 scouts and guides and 153 Bangalore Metro trainees will be deployed at various stations for crowd control and management. This will be in addition to the volunteers of the Metro Citizens' Forum who have been instructed to be more vigilant and devote their time at the stations whenever possible.

An assistant station manager will be posted at the control room of the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee for better liaison and coordination.

“Additional house keeping staff has been already deputed at all the important stations. More ticket counters with pre-vended tokens have been set up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Jangpura metro stations and additional queue managers will be put up at all the stations leading to the Games venues to ensure smooth movement of commuters,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

Strict security arrangements for CWG: Gill

Even as Australia issued a fresh travel advisory regarding India, Sports Minister M.S. Gill Wednesday said strict security arrangements have been made for the Commonwealth Games and there is nothing to worry.

"There are foolproof security arrangements for the Games and there is nothing to worry about," Gill told IANS.

When asked about the fresh Australian advisory, Gill said: "I have spoken to the Scottish minister, Canadian minister and the Australian minister and all of them are satisfied with the security arrangements."

"In fact, I have been told by some of the foreign delegates that they faced problems because of stringent security arrangements at the Games Village and venues," he added.

Australia's fresh terror alert advises its nationals to avoid some parts of the country and leading tourist spots including the Red Fort and Baha'i temple in New Delhi.

In its updated advisory, while Jammu and Kashmir has a "do not travel" warning, the northeastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur have been clubbed under the "reconsider your need to travel" category.

The department of foreign affairs and trade website said: "Terrorists may also be planning attacks against Indian political and security interests. We also continue to receive reports about possible terrorist attacks in markets frequented by foreigners in New Delhi."

"India's Supreme Court as well as the famed Lotus temple are all subject to possible terror attacks. The Indian parliament and Red Fort are also on the list of places that could be terror targets along with hotels in New Delhi and Mumbai," it said.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

31,000 on Facebook path to smooth roads in Delhi

'Dear Sir/Madam, Today I have seen lot many defence cars, with blue and red beacon lights, judges' cars (with justice label at the back) driving in Commonwealth Games lane,' says a Facebook post received by Delhi Traffic Police, nicknamed DTP by netizens.

The mail writer goes on to say: "I don't see any reason (why a) person who is returning from office like us is using the emergency service lane."

The Delhi traffic police Facebook group, within a month of its launch in May, grew to 3,000. Thousands more joined it in subsequent months. By Aug 1, the number reached 17,000. And the figure now stands at 31,000.

"Big jam on NH-8 towards Delhi, especially Mahipalpur red light turn is jampacked..." informs another netizen, Jasdeep Singh.

"Thanks, staff has already been directed to the spot," respond traffic police.

And it is not always the public which airs its views on the traffic police page; the flow of messages from law keepers is also significant. The networking site is also serving as a broadcasting medium for police.

On Tuesday, Ajay Chadha, special commissioner of police (traffic), thanked the public for adhering to the lane regulations imposed on Delhi roads in view of Commonwealth Games-related traffic, with the mega event taking place during Oct 3-14.

The "experience will encourage us to follow the lane driving system after the Games too", he wrote on the Facebook page.

Police officials said the traffic police account on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are growing in popularity by the day and are allowing aggrieved Delhi motorists to air their woes and forward suggestions for better traffic management.

The reply they receive may not always be to their satisfaction but the gratification of reporting a traffic offence is enough for those concerned about their city, said a police official.

The news of Delhi Traffic Police, a law enforcement agency considered by many as frozen in time, going hi-tech and people-friendly by opening Facebook and Twitter accounts pleasantly surprised Delhiites, who now seem to be making the most of the opportunity to reach out to the police.

"It (Facebook and Twitter account) was launched in May by Delhi Traffic Police to electronically connect
with the public, share information and bring about awareness," said Ankit Varshney, a software engineer who follows the social networking sites of traffic police.

"And going by their growing followers, one may deduce that they've been largely successful," he said.

The Commonwealth Games have been one major reason for traffic police to launch its microblogging electronic venture.

On the introductory page, the traffic police says: "Managing traffic in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games will be a big challenge as well as a great opportunity. Delhi Traffic Police cannot possibly succeed without the active cooperation, participation and support of all the citizens."

The home page of traffic police also carries information related to road cave-ins and traffic jams, but, most strikingly, pictures of traffic law offenders.

Shailendra Sharma, an enthusiastic follower of the Facebook group, said: "They listen to the woes of the people and reply instantly and it has become a symbiotic relationship between the law-abiding citizens and the law enforcers."

A feature of the page that has become quite famous over time is the photographs of the traffic law offenders taken by road users. Photographic evidence provides the circumstances of the offence and clear details about the offender, thereby ensuring a quick reaction by police.

"But people can try and use this opportunity to implicate an innocent citizen, or someone against whom they hold a grudge, which can cause unnecessary hassles to that person," points out Ashish Jain, a Facebook user.

Traffic police officials said they don't take evidence, like a photograph, at face value.

Many police departments around the world are similarly trying to connect with the local population through social networking websites.

"Missing car numbers, pictures of wanted criminals can be shared with the public and they can be made part of investigations without them having to reveal their identity," said a police official.

"In the coming days of the Commonwealth Games, more and more people will join the group to remain updated with the latest news and to help traffic police in maintenance of Delhi's roads," hoped Sharma.

Qureshi is 'most welcome' during Games: Krishna

Their talks in New York might not have materialised, but External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has invited his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit India to witness the Commonwealth Games.

Krishna said the Pakistani minister was "most welcome" during the Games that are about to take off in New Delhi.

"Foreign Minister Qureshi is most welcome to come to witness some of the games, it gives us a chance to continue the dialogue," he said.

Delhi is hosting the Games from October 3 to October 14, and the Pakistani sports delegation has already arrived in the capital.

Krishna and Qureshi were both in New York for over a week to attend the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly and a bilateral meeting was widely anticipated.

The meeting, however, did not take place, apparently because India was put off by Qureshi raising the Kashmir issue at several forums there, including the United Nations.

Krishna, finally, told journalists yesterday that a bilateral with Qureshi is not on the cards.

Qureshi, on his part, hinted that it appeared India had changed its mind on the meeting after initially showing interest.

Despite talks in New York not working out, both ministers have also expressed optimism about Qureshi's visit to New Delhi for another round of bilateral talks, which will pick up the threads from Krishna's last visit to Islamabad.

The dates for the next round of talks have not yet been decided.

"I have said in my speech that I have invited Foreign Minister Qureshi to come to India and he has very graciously accepted my invitation," Krishna said.

"I am looking forward to his visit to India so that we can take up from where he left in Islamabad," Krishna said earlier.

South Africa's world champion Caster Semenya pulls out of Commonwealth Games with a back injury

Caster Semenya, the women's 800m world champion, has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games because of a back injury dealing the event another blow.
The 19-year-old, cleared to compete again in July after controversial gender tests had put her career on hold since she won the world title in August 2009, has suffered serious lower back pain and been uncomfortable in her last few races.

Semenya had an MRI scan earlier on Tuesday which showed an inflammation of the spine and left the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) with no alternative but to pull the medal prospect out of their team.

'It would serve no purpose to have an athlete in Delhi who was struggling with any sort of injury that would compromise performance and it is our medical view that physically and emotionally she would not be capable of doing justice to her talent at an event of this magnitude,' Shuaib Manjra, Team South Africa's chief medical officer said in a statement.

Sascoc chief executive Tubby Reddy said Semenya's withdrawal was a blow to South Africa's medal hopes at the games but the welfare of the athlete was his organisation's main concern.

'She was one of our athletes that was expected to do well and win a medal,' Reddy said. 'But if she is carrying an injury it would do her no good to try and compete in Delhi because it could impact on her future achievements. We have thus decided to follow our medical team's advice and withdraw her from the team.'

Other high-profile athletes missing from the Games include world champion sprinter Usain Bolt, who said the event had come too late in the year, and Kenyan 800m world record holder David Rudisha, who blamed tiredness for his withdrawal.

The absence of some of the world's top athletes has taken a lot of the shine off an event India had hoped to use to display its growing global influence, rivalling China which put on a spectacular Olympic Games in Beijing two years ago.

Other athletes have pulled out citing health concerns surrounding dirty accommodation in the athletes' village while some have withdrawn becuase of fears over security.

Commonwealth Games CEO under fire for 'lavish' lifestyle

The Kiwi head of the Commonwealth Games Federation has been accused of living it up royally in India, even as the Games preparations were floundering.
Michael Hooper's come under fire from the Times of India for lavish accommodation and tax arrangements.

The newspaper's obtained documents showing taxpayers have been covering the rental cost of his farmhouse for the past few years, and six staff.

The Delhi Organising Committee's also paid the equivalent of more than NZ $600,000 to take care of Hooper's income tax liabilities.

Hooper isn't the only one in the firing line.

Suresh Kalmadi, chief of India's Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, has also been the recipient of backlash.

Kalmadi spent more than a year assuring backers and critics that India could produce a spectacle to rival the 2008 Beijing Olympics, despite the problem-plagued preparations that have included corruption allegations and concerns over the quality of construction amid the scramble to finish before the Oct. 4-15 event.

The Indian government started to reduce Kalmadi's power last month after an audit body identified concerns over tender procedures and inflated costs.

"I am ready to face a judicial inquiry. Hang me if I am found guilty," Kalmadi said in an interview replayed repeatedly yesterday with Indian news channel CNN-IBN.

"But when the games are over, I should get the credit also."

Meanwhile New Zealand Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley says signs are good that the Commonwealth Games will be a success.

Mr Stanley, who made a whirlwind visit to the Indian capital last week after New Zealand team chef de mission Dave Currie raised serious concerns over the city's readiness to host the games, said conditions had improved overall to the point he felt the games were poised to be a success.

"The response of the Indian government has been very encouraging," Mr Stanley told NZPA.

"A lot of work has been done in the games village. Some towers are yet to be completed but there's been a lot of progress inside the village and its environs.

"We have also received confirmation the training venues are available and secure.

The first wave of New Zealand athletes, including the bowls team, wrestlers, badminton players and archers, had arrived and begun settling in amidst raised security.

"The organisers are working through teething problems with the transport system but the accompanying security seems to be place.

"Security was significant when I was there last week but has been boosted and is very visible this week. The New Delhi police seem to be doing a thorough and diligent job."

Mr Stanley backed Mr Currie's decision to lock New Zealand athletes within a "games bubble".

Athletes will be restricted to 'security bubble'

They won't be allowed outside the areas given the heaviest security allocation - the athletes' village, the venues and the transport to and from them.

"It is very appropriate. We have taken a cautious approach and that (policy) may remain for the whole games," Mr Stanley said.

The international zone at the games village would serve to allow athletes to meet family and friends during the event.

He said he could assure families of the athletes that security around the athletes was of a very high standard.

"The New Delhi police are very experienced around this sort of security deployment and we have confidence they can do the job for our athletes.

"Food at the village is very good. The standard of catering is first class."

As for the threat of mosquito-borne disease such as dengue fever, Mr Stanley said not many of the insects had been observed in the New Zealand accommodation but action continued to be taken by the organisers to minimise the risk.

"Our health team is confident any risk can be mitigated by those measures."

He said the Commonwealth Games Federation had been working with the organisers to see appropriate standards were achieved before the opening of the games.

"Everyone is focused on getting everything ready for the opening ceremony.

"Once the games get going, we get these things behind us and providing . . . all the problem-solving is done as things go along, they should turn out to be a very enjoyable and rewarding games for our team."

back to top