Things are surely going to go down to the wire: Hooper

New Delhi: India`s failure to ensure that all
the Commonwealth Games venues and the athletes` village comply
with safety provision norms could jeopardise the organisation
of the event, according to CGF CEO Mike Hooper, who said the
organisers have allowed "things to go down to the wire".

Acknowledging that lot of work still needs to be done,
Hooper said that they are yet to receive confirmation from the
Organising Committee that the village or any of the venues are
structurally safe and sound and that failure to do so could
place one or two sporting events in danger.

Thousands of athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations will
start to arrive from September 16 to take up residence in the
Games village and to start training at the venues.

"Things are surely going to go down to the wire. It`s a
battle against time. If the Organising Committee failed to
provide the safety certifications on time, if we can`t get the
documentation of the Games village and the venues on time,
then a particular event or so may be in trouble," Hooper said.

"Whether it`s about venue safety at Jawahar Lal Nehru
stadium or any other stadium, clearly we are all aware of the
CVC report last month and implications of that report suggests
sub-standard materials and fabricated case results. That`s a
matter of concern to us.”

"Despite many promises made by the government agencies to
deliver the documentation to validate and verify all the
buildings standards have been met, fire safety certificates
have been issued, we (CGF) still have not been able to get
them and that still remains a cause of great concern to us,"
Hooper said in an interview to a TV channel.

"You can`t occupy the venue unless you have building
completion certificates. People are due to arrive at the Games
village from September 16. They can`t occupy the Games village
unless the building certification is not there. They can`t go
to the venue unless venues certification is not there," he

In late July, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had
cited suspected sub-standard building practices at a number of
Games` venues and in its report accused construction firms of
inflating their costs.

The CVC inspected 15 sporting venues and found fabricated
case material and evidences that regulatory approvals had been

The CGF responded by asking the concerned government
agencies to provide building certificates by August 18 that
confirm all of the venues are safe to operate, a deadline
missed by the authorities.

It was decided to provide the required documentation by
August 31, but officials failed to do so.
Hooper said without the building certificates, he is
unable to allay any fears from countries participating in the
Games and that he has been assured by the OC chairman Suresh
Kalmadi to get them early next week.

"I am hopeful that based on the discussion with Kalmadi,
we will soon have them, may be next week. That`s a very
critical issue to us and one that is very easy to allay the
fears of Commonwealth Games Association. They (OC) should have
it by now. They should follow the international rules,"
Hooper, one of the strong critic of the Delhi Games earlier,

On the issue that there could be substantial and serious
damage to the athletic track at JLN stadium because of the
incessant monsoon rains, Hooper said if there is any damage to
the track then it will have to be re-certified by the IAAF
before the event.

"To my knowledge there has been some subsiding due to
heavy rains in the grass area in the middle of the track and
that has been addressed. But certainly if there is any serious
damage in the track itself then it will have to be
re-certified by the IAAF because it was certified previously
back in July. But if there is some damage on the track then it
has to be looked into," he said.

Casting apprehension over the work done by the city
civic agencies in getting the Games village done on time,
Hooper said there have always been issues all along the way
and DDA, Emaar MGF developers and other should get their act
together to complete the work on time.

"It`s fair to acknowledge that there have been issues all
along. A lot of them linked to the delivery of the Games
Village to get their work done on time. When me and Fennell
visited the village on August 18 there were many towers which
have been handed over to the Organising Committee. But you
have to understand that officials will start arriving from
September 16 and DDA and developers should get their act
together and complete the work on time," he said.

Hooper, however, strongly refuted the suggestion that
postponement of the Games is the only option left with the

"There is no question of changing the dates of the Games.
No postponement. Not at all. Instead of panicking about it we
should focus on getting things right. All the things, building
certificates, kitchen, catering, have to be done in an urgent
manner and that`s the message everyone should understand.”

"We have 28 days to go and we have to make sure that
things that matter to the athletes put right. I know there
would going to be some issues as we head for the Games. But
key to have successful Games in place is to ensuring that we
have right system in place here in India," Hooper said.

When asked about whether he endorses Kalmadi and Union
Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy`s repeated claim
that these will be the best Commonwealth Games ever, Hooper
said he doesn`t make these sorts of judgments.

"At the end of the day athletes will decide whether these
are successful games or not."