OC faces the heat as Fennell arrives tomorrow

The embattled organisers of the scandal-marred Commonwealth Games will have a lot of explaining to do to their international boss Michael Fennell when he arrives Thursday on the opening of the much-criticised Athletes` Village.

Updated: Sep 22, 2010, 18:54 PM IST

New Delhi: The embattled organisers of the
scandal-marred Commonwealth Games will have a lot of
explaining to do to their international boss Michael Fennell
when he arrives here on Thursday on the opening of the
much-criticised Athletes` Village.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief Fennell had shot off
a letter to Cabinet Secretary on Monday, detailing the
"unlivable" conditions at Athletes` Village, which along with
a footbridge collapse near the main Games venue yesterday, had
triggered withdrawal of two high-profile athletes besides pull
out threats from some countries.

Fennell, whose visit here was scheduled earlier, had
given time till tomorrow to the organisers to take immediate
steps and sort out issues in the residential zone of the
Village, which he said has "shocked" advance parties from New
Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland because of its
unhygienic conditions.

There is also speculation that Fennell may meet Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh to urge him take urgent action to save
the Games.

"The final preparations for the Games Village have been
of concern to the CGF since viewing the residential zone along
with a number of Commonwealth Games Associations advance
parties on September 15," Fennel had said in a strongly-worded
statement.

"Many issues remain unresolved and I wrote to the Indian
Cabinet Secretary, expressing my great concern with the
preparedness of Athletes Village. The condition of residential
zone has shocked majority of CGAs that are in Delhi.

"However, with the Village to be officially opened on
September 23, timely acceptable solutions to prepare for the
arrival of athletes are of paramount importance," he said.

Within hours of CGF chief`s scathing attack on the
organisers, world champion Australian discus thrower Dani
Samuel led the pull out bandwagon citing Sunday`s gun attack
on two tourists and the recent outbreak of dengue fever here.

Another world champion, England`s Phillips Idowu, who was
the defend his 1500m gold he won in 2006 Games, followed suit,
saying that his safety is more important than the medal.

Hours before Idowu`s pull out, compatriots -- Olympic
400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and Melbourne Games 1500m
gold medallist Lisa Dobriskey -- also decided to skip the
Games due to injuries, seriously depleting the star presence
in the CWG after the withdrawal of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell,
Chris Hoy, David Rudish, Shelly-An Fraser among others.
England and New Zealand issued warnings to clean up the
mess quickly if the Games is to be held while Scotland delayed
their tomorrow`s scheduled departure of its athletes.

Despite the scathing criticism from the CGF chief, the
Organising Committee said that the matter was not something
for which it should be ashamed of and it was due to different
perceptions in standard of cleanliness.

"It (cleanliness of Games Village) is not such a big
issue which we should be ashamed of. This will not affect the
Games. For us and for you it is clean. But they (the foreign
countries) have a different standard of cleanliness.”

"It is a matter of difference in perception," Secretary
General of the OC, Lalit Bhanot said.

"Anyway, we have now upgraded the level of cleanliness
which should be there according to them. We will complete the
cleaning up of the Village in next two days," he said
yesterday.

The build-up to the Games, starting on October 3, have
been marred by a series of controversies, including corruption
allegations against the organisers, threats of terror attack
and dengue fever.

PTI