Saturday, September 25, 2010

Games president: 'A lot of work needed' before start date

Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell has said there is still “a lot of work” to be done before the event gets underway in Delhi on October 3.

Fennel had a tour of the athletes’ village and held a meeting with Indian government officials yesterday following complaints about the readiness of the village.

Delhi’s preparations have also been hit by failures in the construction of venues. On Tuesday a bridge at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Games, collapsed leaving over 20 people injured before part of the ceiling at the weightlifting arena fell in on Wednesday.

Fennell had said yesterday that he had been heartened by “considerable improvements” made to facilities, but he sounded a more cautionary note today.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, to do the final touches, and there’s more work in the village. It’s not over yet,” he told a press conference.

Several teams delayed their departures to India due to their concerns, and at one point there were worries that some nations would choose to withdraw from the Games.

The event has seen a host of individual competitors opt to pull out, but Fennell confirmed that he was expecting all 71 teams to participate in Delhi.

“I am very happy that today we are recording that there will be full participation in the games,” Fennell said.

"I was very pleased to hear that the teams that had indicated some reservations had given instructions for their teams to travel to Delhi."

He also confirmed that he will make another inspection of the athletes’ village today, and admitted that the work that is currently being carried out should have been completed well ahead of the Games.

“The work that is being done now ought to have been done before, but we are concentrating on how to get things done so athletes can enjoy the best possible conditions when competing at the Commonwealth Games.

“We are very concerned that the effort and momentum of the work will continue and not just until the teams arrive, but throughout the Games.”

When asked if he felt that the CGF had been let down by India, Fennell said: “We are disappointed in a number of things.

“A lot of damage has been done to India, which is the largest Commonwealth country. We need to learn lessons for hosting other events as well. This is part of the learning process. I hope India would have learnt a lesson, we would have learnt a lesson.”

Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi suggested that the delay in some of the work was down to the late handover of some of the venues.

He said: “As far as the village is concerned. We have taken over the venues a little late and that is where the problems came.

“We have been working on this for the last few years and I am chairman of the OC and I will take responsibility, but I wish the venues were handed to us a little earlier.”

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