Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Problems mount at Games, spectators needed

The empty stadiums that have marred the first two days of competition at the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games may be filled by children and the underprivileged given free tickets if attendance doesn't improve.

After weeks of problems and delays in a wide range of areas in the buildup to the Games, the sporting events are starting to grab some focus in New Delhi with host India winning five gold medals on Tuesday and England winning its first two in the pool.

But the problems persisted outside of competition. Workers were rushing to relay turf on the infield and try to clean up Sunday's opening ceremony at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium so it's ready in time for the athletics program to start Wednesday.

Police scoured the athletes village after an anonymous bomb threat, but it was later confirmed as a hoax. Authorities said a 16-year-old local boy had been cautioned after calling the police from a mobile telephone and claiming that a bomb had been placed in the village.

Led by Montreal weightlifter Marilou Dozois-Prevost, Canada won a gold and two bronze Tuesday.

Dozois-Prevost's total of 182 kilograms — 82 in the snatch and 100 in the clean and jerk — in the women's 53-kilogram class earned her a first international gold.

Fredericton wrestler Eric Fuenekes lost his third-place bout in the 96-kilogram Greco-Roman division but still won a bronze medal thanks to Hassene Fkiri's lack of manners.

The Australian was stripped of his silver for making a rude gesture to judges during his final against India's Anil Kumar. A South African was bumped up to silver and Fuenekes got the bronze.

Canada's women's gymnastics team — Catherine Dion of Gatineau, Que., Kristin Klarenbach of Edmonton, Cynthia Lemieu-Guillemette of St-Hubert, Que., Gabby May of Winnipeg, and Emma Willis of Sarnia, Ont. — also won bronze in the team competition.

Canada has two gold and five bronze after two days of competition.

Against the background of bungling, many of the venues across the city remained nearly empty, prompting local organizers to admit that they are considering giving away free tickets.

"We are working on the children from schools. Already steps are being taken in that direction," local organizing committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said Tuesday at a news conference that was sometimes farcical. "And also from the low level of society."

While Indian shooters were busy winning the country's first gold medal of the Games, the leaders of the local organizing committee were sitting alongside the heads of the Commonwealth Games Federation and faced the media for the first time since the event opened.

Kalmadi was confident that the glitches from the first day of competition Monday had been solved overnight, saying that the transportation issues were dealt with and the addition of ticket booths at all venues would lead to bigger crowds.

"As of today, things are all right," said Kalmadi, who also mistakenly noted that "Prince Diana" had attended the opening ceremony before correcting himself and identifying Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall as the attendees.

Lady Diana was the ex-wife of Prince Charles, who is the heir to the British throne and the person who officially declared the Games open. Diana died in a car crash in 1997.

Despite the optimism shown by Kalmadi, Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said his organization still had a number of concerns.

"There are some issues that we had to deal with and we have assigned those issues to various people to correct," Fennell said. "And we're expecting that those will be corrected during the course of the day."

New scales were used for the belated weigh-in before boxing competition started Tuesday. Athletes and coaches were upset when the scales used Monday were found to be giving incorrect readings, forcing some boxers to take desperate, unnecessary attempts to shed weight.

Organizing committee secretary-general Lalit Bhanot said it had been "rectified" and "There's no problem at all."

Mike Hooper, the CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation, also responded to claims that he has been living a lavish lifestyle in India instead of ensuring that deadlines for the Games were met.

"It's just simply not true," said Hooper, who has also been burned in effigy by locals for reportedly criticizing India in the run-up to the Games.

"Obviously it was upsetting personally. I'm not going to delve into it," Hooper said. "The basis of what led to that, it's clear, is not correct."

The 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games have been plagued by construction delays, allegations of corruption and security worries, but with 18 gold medals awarded Tuesday and now 26 overall, much of the focus has now turned to sports.

India picked up two in shooting and three in Greco-Roman wrestling on Tuesday, with Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang starting the rush with victory in the men's 10-metre air rifle pairs event.

"It was always important for us to do well on home ground," Bindra said. "It gives us a good start and hopefully, we will have many more medals in the coming days."

Ravindere Singh won the 64-kilogram class in Greco-Roman wrestling, Sanjay claimed the 74-kg gold and Anil Kumar won the 96-kg event.

Singapore claimed two shooting gold medals when Swee Hon Lim and Bin Gai won the men's 50-metre pistol pairs event and Xiang Wei Jasmine and Aqilah Sudhir won the 50-metre rifle pairs.

In track cycling, Australia won the men's and women's time trial races and the men's pursuit. Olympic champion Anna Meares won the women's 500-metre time trial in 33.758 seconds, Scott Sunderland took the men's one-kilometre time trial in 1:01.411.

Jack Bobridge won the 4,000-metre individual pursuit.

England won its first two gold medals of the Games in the swimming pool. Francesca Halsall beat world champion Marieke Guehrer of Australia in the women's 50-metre butterfly, and world champion Liam Tancock won the men's 50 backstroke.

Also, Leiston Pickett gave Australia its fourth gold of the six-day swimming meet by winning the women's 50-metre breaststroke and Robert Renwick won Scotland's first gold with a victory in the 200 freestyle.

Australia won the women's team gymnastics gold for the fourth time in a row and led the medal standings after two days with nine gold medals and 23 overall. India was second with 11 overall.

Canada is sixth.

No comments:


back to top