Wary of further slippages in the capital's preparations, the Commonwealth Games Federation decided to form an independent monitoring panel for the 2010 edition of the Games and bluntly reminded the Organising Committee that time was the “biggest enemy”.
In a subtle message to the organisers, the CGF President Michael Fennell said that an independent technical panel will monitor the capital's progress so that it meets all the new deadlines, though Delhi could still host a a successful Games next year.
“I have no doubt that the 2010 Games can still be great Games, provided all corrective measures are taken and there is no further slippage,” Fennell told reporters here.
He welcomed the decision to get more foreign experts on board but made it clear that the Organising Committee would be strictly monitored in their final year of preparation.
“The CGF Executive Board has decided to establish a high-level, independent, technical review panel, that will monitor the progress. This panel will comprise of Chairman and other members who will be experts in their field. They would give us monthly report on in an open, transparent fashion,” said Fennell, who has been critical of the capital's tardy preparation.
The Commonwealth Coordination Commission would also maintain its monitoring, he said.
“The Commission will continue its visit and they would come next on December 14 to address all key areas and all operational areas,” Fennell said.
Reminding that time was running out fast, Fennell said, “Two years before the Games, I had told the OC that time was not your friend and now one year before it, I say time is your enemy. But together, we can defeat it.” Fennell said a Chef-de-Missions meeting would take place in March next year where the head of the missions would take stock of the progress and return home accordingly.
The CGF chief identified infrastructure and security as two important areas and sounded confident with both.
“A great deal has been discussed and achieved. Despite lagging behind, we feel the venues would be ready in 2010 well before testing events. That remains a top priority because venues cannot afford anymore slippage and it should be ensured that the new deadlines are met.
“We fully acknowledge the strong commitment of the Indian and Delhi government to complete the venues and Games Village on time and with due diligence, this can be done,” he said.
On the safety aspect of the Games, Fennell said, “During the visit, we also witness the commitment of security.
Everyone here for the CGF General Assembly felt they have been operation in a safe and secure environment and this can be extended to the Games itself.
Recently, the inaugural security conference has taken place in Delhi with the Commonwealth nations and their security advisers. It is clear that good progress is being made on that ground. Security will remain a priority as security requirements constantly change with time,” Fennell said.
“A second international security conference will be held in June 2010 to give CGF a chance to review the scenario.
Meanwhile, CGF's own security advisers will continue to monitor the progress and advice us accordingly. Security will continue to receive a high-priority.
“We are satisfied that the Government of India places highest importance to the security of the country and really high importance on the Games' security,” Fennell said.
A second security conference with Commonwealth members would be held in Delhi in June, next year to review the progress, he said.
Fennell sought an overhaul of the procurement process and was assured by OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi that the issue would be taken care of.
“I also advised getting foreign experts in areas like Games Village operation, press operations, transportation, ticketing and accreditation.
“It is a big step forward and this should be maintained without any hitch,” Fennell said, looking at Kalmadi.
Asked about his main area of concern, Fennell said, “I was never concerned about the infrastructure of the Games.
Overall, we were more concerned about the operational issues.” Although, Fennell's meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not materialise, he said he was satisfied with the government's seriousness towards making the 2010 Games a success.
“I could not meet the Prime Minister as he was not available. He is busy with state elections. However, I know he met with the Sports Minister and the Sports Minister presented him with a detailed report on the progress.
“He spoke with authority of Prime Minister. I am very satisfied with the commitment of the Indian government,” the CGF chief said.
Kalmadi on his part vowed not to let down CGF and promised to deliver a successful Games.
“We have taken note of their suggestions and would move forward in a fast pace. We would not let down CGF and India will host a Games to be proud of.
“We are working as Team India and will deliver a great Games,” he added.