Friday, September 24, 2010

Commonwealth shame: IOC president Jacques Rogge says give India a chance

India's potential for hosting future Olympics should not be written off before giving embattled New Delhi organisers a chance to pull off the Commonwealth Games with a "last-ditch" effort, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said in an interview today.

Rogge told The Associated Press that he hopes India can come through, just as Greek organisers overcame "doomsday scenarios" to stage the successful 2004 Athens Olympics despite severe construction delays and political wrangling.

The International Olympic Committee leader will travel to New Delhi next week to attend the October 3 opening of the Commonwealth Games, which were put at risk this week by filthy conditions at the athletes' village, a pedestrian bridge collapse and health and security concerns.

The chaotic preparations have seemingly doomed India's hopes of bidding for the 2020 Olympics, but Rogge said it was too early to rule the country out.

"I think I can hardly make a judgment before the Games have even started," Rogge said. "Let's give them the chance to prove they can stage good Games. It would be with a last-ditch effort and it probably would be costly, but let's hope they can fulfil that.

"Hopefully the Indians can pull out a last-ditch effort like the Greeks have done," he said.

The Commonwealth Games, an Olympic-style multi-sports event bringing together more than 7,000 athletes from 71 countries and territories, was meant to underline India's emergence as an Asian power on the world stage and serve as a platform for an Olympic bid.

"It's far too premature to discuss this," Rogge said. "This is something that has to be seen by the Indians themselves. There is no doubt they will make an analysis of the games. They will have to see if their original intentions can be kept or not."

Corruption scandals, delays in getting facilities ready and squalid conditions at the athletes' village have turned the event into an embarrassment for India - even raising the prospect of the Games being called off or of teams refusing to attend.

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