Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Commonwealth Games revenue pleases officials

A delay in completion of some venues remains a concern for the Commonwealth Games Co-ordination Committee, but an unprecedented amount of revenue has pleased it no end.

“We were particularly pleased with the in-roads being made in the area of sponsorship and the results achieved to date by the Organising Committee and their appointed agents and managers,” said CGF CEO Mike Hooper.

“With what has already been contracted, and what is currently at contract stage, the sponsorship programme has almost eclipsed what Melbourne achieved in 2006. Melbourne was the most successful sponsorship campaign in the history of the Commonwealth Games by a significant margin. The total currently stands at US $74 million, but more is expected,” he said.

Meanwhile, CGF treasurer Austin Sealy said he was confident that things would fall in place well in time, even though there were some areas of concern.

“The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the Talkatora swimming complex and the games village have not been completed in time. Security remains an issue and will continue to be one till the games do not come to a close. Then there are also the issues of co-ordination, communication.

“But hopefully everything will be done well in time and the organising committee needs to be lauded for the quickened paced. I hear that the test events have gone off well and there has been significant improvement from one to the other,” he said after a four-day evaluation by the committee.

Wake up, expedite benefits assured to Games workers, court tells agencies

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday slammed various agencies involved in the construction projects for the Commonwealth Games for their slow approach allow the benefits assured to the workers.

The court also pulled up the petitioner in the case, who demanded a ‘quick’ decision and its implementation in the case.

“You (petitioner) go to sleep, they (authorities) also go to sleep, wake up at the last moment and expect a miracle,” a Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta remarked.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government’s standing counsel Najmi Waziri submitted a report that 2,302 passbooks were issued between January and April this year and that the registration of the workers was also underway.

The court also demanded to know if all agencies involved in hiring workers for the Games projects had furnished all information, along with a list of workers, to the state government.

The counsel for the Delhi International Airport Limited told the court that they had already supplied a list of labourers to the government and they will soon submit another list containing details of 2,000 labourers.

Irked, the court asked, “Why did you not do it earlier? If not earlier, you should have done it at least by now.”

During the hearing, the petitioner, Peoples’ Union For Democratic Rights, intervened requesting the court to ask the state government to act soon. They contended that by the time the process concludes, the migrant labourers would have returned to their native states.

Justice Lokur said: “Why did you not come earlier if you were in such haste? Why are you waking up so late? The Commonwealth Games were announced ten years ago. You could have come earlier. You cannot expect a miracle at the last moment.”

In its previous orders, the court had asked all the agencies to register all the workers and ensure minimum wages, safety equipment, and insurance and medical benefits are provided to them. The government had then told the court that it had asked all the principal employers to provide information about their workers.

The matter, since then, has been getting delayed due to various reasons. The court has now posted the matter for May 26.

Police should be people-friendly: Sheila Dikshit

With the Commonwealth Games around the corner, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit Wednesday said the police should be more people-friendly and asked citizens in turn to have confidence in the force.

Dikshit said this at a meeting on the Delhi Police (Amendment) Bill here, which was attended among others by union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, Police Commissioner Y.S. Dadwal, Delhi cabinet ministers and representatives from resident welfare associations.

"There is a need for police to be people-friendly. The people must have a sense of confidence in the police," Dikshit said, according to a Delhi government release.

The meeting discussed methods to make the police more socially responsible, need for an urban transport management authority to decongest the city road traffic besides measures to deal with new types of crimes.

The other issues that were discussed included transfer of traffic matters and other non-core functions to the city government, structural arrangement and the scope of administrative control of the state government over the functioning of Delhi Police.

The state government has been asking for control over Delhi Police, which is under the union home ministry at present.

Officials said the views and suggestions of the participants will be sent to the union home ministry.

Kalmadi & Co meet Prime Minister, get no assurance

Heads of sporting federations, including Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi, met PM Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to protest the sports ministry limiting their tenures but came away with little assurance.

The plea that the order was ill-timed, coming before the Commonwealth Games and in the midst of a security inspection, and that autonomy of sporting federations was affected elicited a non-committal response.

BJP leader and archery chief Vijay Malhotra said every country had different standards. Sources said Singh heard out the team but offered no assurance.

Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi, speaking to the media after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday, focused on the timing of the sports ministry's intervention while IOA secretary general Randhir Singh referred to an International Olympic Committee (IOC) directive on autonomy of national federations. They said the PM had agreed to "study" their case and get back to them.

The so-called IOC threat does not seem to have intimidated the government. On IOA's argument that government "interference" in working of sports federations might invite de-recognition by IOC, the government is preparing to despatch officials to interact directly with the international sports organization.

The PM is most unlikely to weigh in for the sports federations, given their record of opaque functioning and poor results in most disciplines. The argument that federations were elected bodies and office-bearers held office democratically has not cut much ice as the government feels it has the powers to set tenure limits.

On the timing of the announcement, the government's riposte is that it has responded to events in the Delhi High Court which is hearing a PIL challenging the continuance of several sports bosses as office-bearers almost indefinitely and seeking implementation of guidelines on fixed tenures. The limit of 12 years on tenures either consecutively or with breaks is seen as reasonable by the government.

The sports ministry's case is strengthened by a previous ruling of the Delhi HC in a case challenging former Punjab top cop K P S Gill's perch as hockey federation head in March, 2009, which said the Centre's guidelines should be implemented.

These would help minimize, if not eliminate, allegations of nepotism and corruption, the court had held. In that 2009 order, the court had ruled that Parliament has the power to legislate in the matters of National Sports Federations, that the guidelines of 1975 were valid, binding and enforceable and also that the tenure clause is not in violation of the IOC Charter.

The judgment went against KPS Gill despite the government maintaining that it had lost the file referring to a decision to implement the guidelines.

In the NDA tenure, while Uma Bharati had suspended the guidelines, her successor Vikram Verma had reversed the order. A photocopy of this missing file was delivered to the petitioner's lawyer anonymously.

It was found to be an accurate copy. It proved to be critical in turning the case against the powerful ex-super cop.

Commonwealth Games delays in Delhi cause 'concern'

Delays in handing over several venues in Delhi are causing "serious concern" to the organisers of the Commonwealth Games, due to take place in October.

The athletics stadium, swimming complex and Games Village have still not been completed with five months remaining.

"There remains much to be done to ensure a cohesive games delivery from the opening of the Games Village on 16 September," a statement said.

Athletes from 71 nations, mostly former British colonies, are set to compete.

Last month it was confirmed that English athletes would compete in the Games despite security concerns.

And the co-ordination commission of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) added that much progress had been made since a damning report in December, which said numerous deadlines had been missed.

The commission, chaired by Austin Sealy, recently spent four days in Delhi assessing the city's readiness for the competition.

They listed 38 issues which were still "critical", an improvement on the 70 named in December.

Safety and security remains a major concern following a bomb blast at an IPL cricket match in Bangalore last month which injured 14 people.

The commission said: "The CGF continues to work closely with the organising committee, Delhi Police and the governments of India and Delhi to monitor all Games security arrangements and has assigned specialist consultants to work on its behalf as is its standard practice for all Games.

"All parties, including the CGF, are committed to the conduct of safe and friendly Games which will be enjoyed by all."

It will be the biggest sporting event, with the exception of cricket, India has hosted since the Asian Games in 1982.

CGF praises OC, cites ''remarkable progress''

Praising the Organising Committee for the progress in the preparations for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), CGF Co-ordination Commission chairman Austin Sealy today expressed confidence that the capital will host a successful multi-sports event this October.

The Commonwealth Games Federation's (CGF) Coordination Commission has spent the past four days in the city, evaluating preparations for the Commonwealth Games that get underway in the Indian capital on October 3 - in just 151 days.

The Coordination Commission, which is on its final visit before the Games, received detailed presentations from the Organising Committee (OC) and its delivery partners.

It also received reports from the various venue construction agencies on the progress of competition venues, the athletes village, and other CWG infrastructure projects and undertook site visits to the main venues.

''It has been a fruitful visit. The progress since the last visit is remarkable,'' Sealy told reporters here.

''I congratulate the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the progress they have achieved. ''I also thank the government of India for their support,'' he added.

The CGF Co-ordination Commission chairman however, cautioned that the OC still has a lot of work to do before the CWG gets rolling, specially since some of the Games venues are still to be completed.

''Kalmadi and his team still has to cover a lot of work.

''The rest of the venues must be completed in time for the remaining test events. Particularly the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and the swimming venue (Talkatora stadium),'' Sealy stated.

''But we are confident that all the work will be completed in time,' he added.

Expressing satisfaction with the security arrangements, he said,''The CGF Co-ordination Commission has been satisfied by the police and security. ''I would like to assure the participants and visitors that the security arrangements are top class and we have nothing to fear.'' Sealy was also happy with the level of interest shown by the sponsors in the CWG.

''I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of sponsorsorship that the Organising Committee has been able to attract. ''The amount of sponsorship is in fact, much larger than that of the previous Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
in 2006,'' he asserted.

Govt reviews security for Commonwealth Games

The government on Wednesday reviewed the steps being taken to ensure foolproof security for the Commonwealth Games to be held in October.

A meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary GK Pillai discussed security-related concerns and issues with senior personnel of central paramilitary forces, Delhi Police, civic agencies -- Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) -- and Home Ministry officials.

Pillai has taken the stock of arrangements being made by Delhi Police and other stakeholders to ensure safety and security during the mega sporting events, sources said.

City Police Commissioner YS Dadwal gave a detailed presentation regarding the arrangements being made by Delhi Police.

Officials expressed satisfaction over successful completion of World Cup Hockey tournament held here recently.

They said various security-related concerns and issues were also discussed to allay fears, especially from the mind of foreign players and delegates during the meeting which lasted for about two hours.

Commonwealth Games are due here between October 3 and 14 this year.

CGF happy with progress, but lists key challenges

With 151 days left for the Commonwealth Games, the Co-ordination Commission (CoCom) of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) after its last round of meeting here said it is happy with the progress but singled out some key challenges for the Organising Committee, including completion of some venues and security before the Oct 3-14 event.

The COCOM, chaired by CGF treasurer Austin Sealy, said that 70 critical issues listed in December have now been reduced to just 38.

“We are extremely happy to be back here and are through with our seventh and final meeting. Certainly the progress that we have noticed since our previous visit in December last year is remarkable. But still a lot of work is to be done. There is quite a bit of work to be undertaken by Suresh Kalmadi (organising committee chairman) and his team,” said Sealy.

The Barbadian said that major areas of concerns are construction of the Games Village, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, venue for opening and closing ceremony, and the swimming complex.

“These delays have the knock-on effect and hamper the organising committee’s planning and implementation for final, overlay, staff training, rehearsal and stimulation. It is imperative that everything be done to accelerate work and that the agencies responsible for venue delivery cooperate fully with the Organising Committee to ensure the final planning for handover and operations,” he said.

Sealy also said the CGF will work closely with the Organising Committee, Delhi Police and the government to monitor the security arrangements.

“We must say that we are happy with security, but even the Times Square is not safe. So we can’t take anything for granted,” he said.

Sealy also said he was happy with the sponsorship money raised for the Commonwealth Games.

“The sponsorship deal has not only crossed what we got from Melbourne but also our expected target,” he said.

Commonwealth top officials support Indian sports administrators

The visiting Commonwealth games federation officials today threw their weight behind the Indian sports administrators, saying they never faced similar tenure limitation bid by their governments back home.

CGF Coordination Committee chairman Austin Sealy said the Sports Ministry guideline was unfortunate in its timing as the Games here are just 150 days away.

"The timing of the sports ministry order was unfortunate. The organising committee could have done their work without these distractions," Sealy, also the CGF treasurer, said while addressing a press conference after CoCom's four-day visit here.

"I have been CGF Treasurer since 1986 and before that I have been head of my country's Olympic Committee for 14 years (1982-96).

"CGF President Mike Fennell has been Jamaican Olympic Association President for more than 30 years. We did not have this kind of problem in our part of the world," Sealy said.

Asked whether the sports ministry guidelines could impact on the preparations of the Games, Sealy said, "I hope not, though it is not a CGF matter. We will have to continue keeping our hands on the plough and tackle the task at hand."

CGF chief executive Mike Hooper, who had a public spat with IOA chief Kalmadi last year, also chipped in saying that there should not be external pressure on national sports bodies.

Asked about International Olympic Committee's own rule of limiting its president to 12-year term, Hooper said, "There was no external pressure on IOC in doing that. It was internally done by it under its constitution."

Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief Perry Crosswhite said there no limitation in the tenure of sports administrators in his country as well.

"We don't have any such tenure restrictions in our country. We have no government interference. Tenure of sports administrators is our internal issue," he said.

Kalmadi said the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee would not be distracted by the Sports Ministry guidelines on limitation of tenure and said they would concentrate at the work at hand.

"I and other NSF chief met the prime minister today. We are not going to be distracted (by the Sports Ministry guidelines). We will ensure the best ever Games," Kalmadi said.

IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh echoed Kalmadi's view, saying that the OC would have to concentrate on the work at hand.

Kalmadi meets Manmohan Singh over new tenure regulations

Indian Olympic Association officials along with a delegation of National Sports Federations met the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday over the issue of new tenure regulations.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Kalmadi said, "We met Prime Minister over the issue of the IOA autonomy."

"We have assured the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth Games will be a huge success. We conveyed that Sports Minister M S Gill should not have come out with all these ideas now. He should have come out after the Games. The Prime Minister has said that he will look into the matter," Kalmadi added.

The officials are also unconvinced as to why this stir had to come just months ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

They have termed the government move as interference in their affairs and even warned that the attempts to erode their autonomy may invite international ban on India.

The new regulations restrict National Sports Federations presidents from occupying the posts for over 12 years, with or without break.

When it comes to secretaries and treasurers, the regulations allow them to serve eight years at a stretch and to seek a re-election only after a four-year gap.

Apart from Kalmadi, the regulation seeks to end the over a decade-old reign of VK Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), Captain Satish K Sharma (aero club), B S Adityan (volleyball) and Jagdish Tytler (judo).

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