New Delhi, Oct 6 : Concerned over almost-nil attendance at competition venues due to excessive pro-active security, the Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell today bluntly told the Organising Committee to get more people into the stadium, saying it is a serious issue which needs to be resolved fast.
Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi gave one-line answers when he was grilled by journalists regarding poor attendance at the stadiums while Fennell seemed to be taking the issue seriously as he interjected on a couple of occasions.
"We have discussed the issue (of poor attendance) with the OC, we have raised the question on how to get people packed at the stadium. Only the OC and Mr Kalmadi can answer all these questions ... we have put this on the agenda for further discussion," Fennell told a press conference at the Main Press Centre (MPC).
Kalmadi maintained that it was early days in the Games and with India picking up medals in many disciplines the interest of people will rise.
"We sold more than 50,000 tickets yesterday. The boxing and wrestling stadiums were packed yesterday. Now public interest is high with India picking five gold. There are queues in the stadiums. It will improve everyday. That only I can say," he said.
Kalmadi and Fennell had to face a volley of questions on the lack of interest from the people and the latter mostly diverted the queries to OC chairman, saying it's their responsibility and they would have to answer.
But when Kalmadi tried to evade a query of a scribe on the difficulty by people to get tickets without identity cards, Fennell interjected and said the issue is serious and more discussion is needed.
"There seemed to be problems in the ticketing issue. If people are not getting tickets then we will have to discuss about it more. We will discuss it with the OC," a visibly unhappy CGF chief said, while Kalmadi said the problem will be sorted out by tomorrow.
Kalmadi faced tough questions on the poor attendance at the Karni Singh shooting range where Indian Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang won gold yesterday.
When pointed out by a foreign journalist that only 30-odd people were there when Bindra and Narang won gold, Kalmadi said he himself was there and the scribe's figure was wrong.
"I myself was there and there were a few hundreds," he said to which the journalist said he could provide the photograph to prove his point.
"If you take photos of a section of the venue then I don't know," Kalmadi replied.
Asked if the lack of interest of the people could be interpreted as loss of relevance of the Games, Fennell said that bad publicity in the lead-up to the controversy-marred Games could be the reason.
"It is wrong to draw conclusion like that ... initial feedbacks about the opening ceremony were fantastic. After that we don't know about the ratings of the competitions. I think the adverse publicity leading to the Games might have turned off some people. We need to rebuild it and see that the event is successful. The quality of the broadcast and the picture quality was excellent," Fennell said.
Asked whether the CGF has lost confidence in the Organising Committee, Fennell said, "We have confidence in Kalmadi. We have to tackle the problems on a day to day basis and we have to be patient. Our common aim is to conduct the Games successfully." PTI