Govt briefs C`wealth diplomats on games, security

Against the backdrop of security and health concerns expressed by some countries, the Indian govt Wednesday briefed heads of missions of Commonwealth countries.

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of security and health concerns expressed by some countries, the Indian government Wednesday briefed heads of missions of Commonwealth countries and assured them that all steps are being taken to ensure the security of visiting dignitaries and athletes during the Oct 3-14 Games.

More than 40 heads of missions were present at the briefing on the Commonwealth Games held at Hyderabad House.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Sports Secretary Sindhu Shree Khullar, Health Secretary K Sujatha Rao and Chief Secretary, Delhi, Rakesh Mehta, were present to answer queries of diplomats.

A detailed presentation on different facets of the Games, the biggest sporting event India will host since the 1982 Asiad Games, was made by Neelam Kapoor, principal director general of the Press Information Bureau.

The diplomats were told about multiple security layers Indian security agencies have put in place to ensure terror-free Games, said sources.

The first organised interaction with diplomats from Commonwealth countries came amid reports of teams from some countries having second thoughts about coming to Delhi for the Games due to fear of terrorist attacks and the dengue scare.

The meeting took place on a day when a daily disclosed that Australian track and field athletes were having second thoughts about participating in the Commonwealth Games after receiving an e-mail from the national federation warning them of "a high risk of terrorist attack" during the showpiece games in Delhi.

"There is a high risk of terrorist attack in related stories in New Delhi. Since 2000, there have been at least 14 major terrorist attacks in New Delhi on locations such as markets, train stations and other public places," Athletics Australia said in the e-mail, according to Daily Telegraph.

"These attacks have caused hundreds of deaths and injuries. Australians in New Delhi should be aware that the Commonwealth Games will be held in a security environment where there is a high risk of terrorism.

"We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups," Daily Telegraph quoted the e-mail as saying.

The disclosure came days after Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese said that despite the dengue threat Australia will send the biggest ever delegation of athletes to Delhi.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) Monday said it will wait for its chef-de-mission Dave Currie`s assessment after his 10-day visit to New Delhi before deciding on participation in the Commonwealth Games.

The New Zealand Commonwealth Games top management insisted they would not compromise one bit on the security of the athletes. New Zealand have gone in with Canada, Australia, England and Wales in a joint operation to assess security and preparedness for the Games.


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