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Fennell Shares Blame For CWG Mess, Says Considerable Work Done

New Delhi, Sep 25 : Sharing the blame for the shoddy preparations for the Commonwealth Games, CGF boss Mike Fennell on Saturday  said considerable work has been done but it has to be sustained over
PTI September 25, 2010 20:30 IST
New Delhi, Sep 25 : Sharing the blame for the shoddy preparations for the Commonwealth Games, CGF boss Mike Fennell on Saturday  said considerable work has been done but it has to be sustained over the next eight days to make the troubled event a success.  

Rounding up an emergency stock-taking trip, during which he inspected the much-criticised Games Village, Fennell said it was not the time to indulge in a blame-game but so much of work should not have been left for the last lap. "The massive work that is being done now ought to have been done earlier," said Fennell.  

With the sun shining for the second successive day, the mood among the top OC officials also brightened up as they took journalists and Heads of Mission on a conducted tour of the Village, dubbed filthy by international delegates some days ago, in an apparent damage-control exercise.  

Ending days of uncertainty over international participants, Fennell also brought some much-needed good news for the beleaguered organisers by announcing that "there would be full participation in the Games." The spate of individual pullouts also slowed down a bit with just a British diver -- Peter Waterfield -- announcing his withdrawal.  

But the highlight of the day was Fennell's press conference where he spoke of his disappointment at India's failure to complete the preparations in time and of how it would dent the country's image.  

"We all have to share the blame and responsibility. In any Games, there are a number of stakeholders, overall we have to ensure that we do everything to conduct the Games," Fennell said. But despite the controversy-marred build-up, Fennell asserted that calling off the Games "was never" on Commonwealth Games Federation's (CGF) agenda.

Flanked by embattled Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, Fennell said both India and the Commonwealth can learn a lesson from the shortcomings in organising the 19th edition of the Games.  

"Other Games have had problems and I believe that here also the problems would be sorted. A number of issues should have been and could have been avoided and that necessary corrective steps should be taken in good time," he added. "A lot of damage has been done to India, which is the largest Commonwealth country. We need to learn lessons for hosting other events as well," Fennell said.  

 Asked whether he felt let down by India, which won the hosting rights way back in 2003 but is in a desperate race against time to finish off the work, Fennell said, "We are disappointed in a number of things."  

Kalmadi, who has been under a fresh attack since the collapse of a foot over-bridge near the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, admitted that he had to take a part of the blame for the current crisis. "I am the chairman of Organising Committee and I will take all the responsibility but I wish venues were handed to us a little earlier," he said.  

Both Kalmadi and Fennell had to face a barrage of uncomfortable questions on India's under-preparedness and the OC chief, in particular, came in for extensive grilling by both the Indian and international media. Despite Fennell's assertion that there has to be collective responsibility for the situation, Kalmadi insisted that the CGF boss did not mean to blame the OC.  

"I don't think he has pointed the finger at the Organising Committee. The developer has to hand the venues over to OC and then it is our responsibility. As far as the Games Village is concerned, 18 towers were handed to us and we completed the work on time. The rest 18 were handed over late and that is where the problem is," he explained.  

Kalmadi did admit that there were shortcomings in the preparations but gave assurance that they would be rectified in the next couple of days.  

"There were deficiencies and in another couple of days we will finish all the work. We have some issues in the Games Village but I think it is a fine Village. Only that some blocks have to be cleaned up. But all the infrastructure is good. The Games are going to be good. We are doing everything possible to your satisfaction. "I can assure you that our aim is to host a good Games. Our aim is to do as good as Melbourne," he said.  

Speaking about the Village, which was dubbed "filthy and uninhabitable" by international delegates a few days ago, Fennell reiterated that considerable improvements have been made but concerns remain about transport, security and evacuation plans in the residential blocks.  

"Following the action that has been taken by the government to ensure that the remedial work is done, I am very pleased to receive the news that the countries who were not convinced, have instructed their teams to travel to Delhi," he added. Fennell said while the work continues at the residential blocks, the international zone has turned out to be brilliant.  

"On a happy note, the international zone has been completed and it is in very good condition and is an excellent international zone. The dining room and kitchen are excellent. The food is good, we had a meal there and it was excellent," he said. Fennell said the CGF would be monitoring the progress of the preparations closely including security concerns and safety norms at the Village and at the venues.  

With things looking much brighter now, the Group of Ministers overseeing the preparations of the Games also exuded confidence about the country successfully hosting the Games.  

"I am absolutely confident we will be able to deliver successful games. The problem has narrowed down to upkeep of the Games Village," said GOM head and Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy on the sidelines of a function here. Reddy said all venues are in perfect shape and now the focus is on the upkeep of the Games Village.  

"Let us focus on the delivery of the Games and house keeping of the Games Village than dissection of the problems," he said. PTI