Delhi makes progress as criticism pours in

The Commonwealth Games Federation signalled on Thursday that New Delhi was succeeding in fixing the problems that have brought the event to the brink of disaster, with fears receding about its cancellation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summoned leading ministers to a crisis meeting late on Thursday and Delhi’s Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, oversaw the deployment of hundreds of staff to clean the athletes’ village.

“There has been progress and there is more to do,” Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Games federation, told Agence France-Presse, adding that there had been a “significant additional resource deployment”, with the event just 10 days away.

“We’re concentrating on fixing the problems. My attitude is that the Games are on. We are working at the highest levels of government,” he said shortly before the president of the federation was due to arrive in the Indian capital.

A source in the federation, which went public with complaints about the “filthy” and “seriously compromised” village on Tuesday, said that the mood was more upbeat and that the risk of cancellation was now small.

Several teams have delayed their athletes’ departure for the Indian capital amid demands for better conditions in the village, but the first contingents including a party from Malaysia were scheduled to arrive on Thursday evening.

Several world-class athletes have already pulled out of the October 3 to 14 event, however, and New Zealand on Thursday joined other nations, including Canada and Scotland, in pushing back its team’s departure.

India’s Premier, Singh, has become personally involved in the faltering preparation for the Games, which has already damaged India’s image and its plans to use the platform to promote its economic emergence.

Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy and Sports Minister MS Gill have been summoned to the premier’s residence with the Games “the only point of discussion on the agenda”, an official in the PM’s office said.

Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Michael Fennell was to inspect progress and seek a meeting with Singh, but face-to-face talks with the premier were still in doubt, the CGF source said.


‘Tremendously disappointing’
The Delhi organisers continue to come under attack for their lack of preparation, particularly in the village, where photos emerged of the conditions that greeted the first foreign officials to visit this week.

Pictures leaked to the BBC by an unnamed member of a national delegation showed a filthy leaking toilet, a stained and dirty shower, a bed with muddy dog paw prints on it, as well as rubble and water-logging.

“It’s tremendously disappointing,” New Zealand’s Games chief Mike Stanley said in a statement. “The long list of outstanding issues has made it clear the village will now not be ready for New Zealand athletes to move in as planned.”

Andrew Pipe, the president of Canada’s Games delegation, launched a scathing attack on the Indian organisers.

“Their indifference at times has seemed to border on the intransigent to us, and that’s just unacceptable,” he told the BBC.

Months of warnings to the organisers about security, shoddy infrastructure and the state of the village “have fallen on deaf ears”, Pipe said.

‘Sad state of affairs’
New Delhi had been expecting 7 000 athletes and officials for the multi-sport showpiece for Commonwealth countries, mostly nations and territories formerly in the British Empire.

India was hoping to show off its progress and growing economic might — the “shining India” of 9% economic growth, high-tech software companies and new diplomatic clout on the international stage.

But a footbridge collapse this week and a shooting outside New Delhi’s main mosque have brought simmering disquiet to a head, coming after well-documented delays, political infighting and allegations of corruption.

A top Indian builders’ union said the rush to finish venues in time — seven years after the country was awarded the Games — had compromised safety and quality.

India’s leading business lobby group also voiced fears of the damage to the country’s image abroad.

“It is a sad state of affairs indeed and, psychologically, puts a question mark against India’s capacity to deliver,” said the general secretary of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Amit Mitra. — AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Neha Lall
Junior at ARHS Love basketball and track Horror movies are my fav ❤️ My hobbies are reading, writing, and watching tv
Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday