Friday, September 24, 2010

A day of high profile visits at the Games Village

It was another day of frenetic activity at the Commonwealth Games Village as top-ranking officials continued to drop in for inspections throughout Friday. Early on a sunny day, at 8:50 am, OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi and vice chairman Randhir Singh entered, and along with CGF president Mike Fennell,
they took stock of the arrangements at the Village. Fennell later said that “considerable improvements” had been made and things were rapidly improving.

Later in the day, CGF CEO Mike Hooper held a meeting with the chiefs of mission of various countries in the International Zone. OC director-general VK Verma said there was a “positive response,” even though HT sources indicated otherwise. But after the meet ended, Kalmadi was seen asking volunteers how the media had been allowed inside, after which Shera banners were hastily installed to keep prying eyes and cameras out.

England's chef de mission Craig Hunter also visited the Village and looked happy with the arrangements. “It's a great Games Village. The venues are world-class and we are looking at getting the rest of the team out there,” he said. British High Commissioner Richard Stagg also visited the Village.

In the afternoon, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit made an impromptu appearance at the Village. She pulled in at 3:20pm and was kept waiting for close to 15 minutes, as there were no golf carts to ferry her around. She also spent an hour inside the athletes' quarters before leaving. “The conditions have definitely improved here. Though the stagnant water in the basements is a tougher problem, we have enough repellants to ensure that mosquitoes do not bite and infect the residents here. There are people here who will work throughout the night (on Friday) to ensure that everything happens on time,” she said.

When she was asked about teams choosing to stay in different hotels instead of the Village, Dixit said, “They're welcome here anytime to see what the state of the accommodation is.” She also said that some residential towers had become easier to clean after professional help was brought in.

The next high profile entry was made by Delhi Police Commissioner, YS Dadwal, who said that security, arranged by his force, was top-notch.

Welsh flags, the only visible sign of an international presence in the residential zone, fluttered outside flats in a tower. Inside the International Zone, it wasn't business as usual, as no athletes have arrived.

The merchandise shop wore a deserted look, as did the hair salon and general store. Some delegates ambled around the area, but apart from them, the place mostly buzzed with camerapersons and news crews looking for stories.

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