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Pattaya Daily News

26 September 2010 :: 12:09:44 pm 40719

Commonwealth Games Green-Lighted Despite Controversies

After a number of setbacks in Delhi’s construction of the stadium for the Commonwealth Games, things appear to be improving as the first of the competitors begin to arrive.
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UK, 26th September 2010: As the day of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi nears, Athletes and business leaders have been warned to expect terrorist attacks on tourist areas and public spaces across India. When the Games looked to be in serious danger of cancellation a week ago, athletes have now began to arrive in Delhi with the first representatives of England arriving last Thursday while Scottish and Welsh competitors arrived yesterday.

A risk analysis of teams including some from the UK and major corporations has highlighted terrorist threats that overshadow the event. The assessment made by one of the world’s leading security firms explained why the Commonwealth Games Federation President Michael Fennel warned of the great concerns about security and safety of athletes and officials.

In a damning report of Delhi’s ability to protect visitors, the UK based firm ‘Control Risks’ warned that the diversion of security personnel to protect the main stadiums have left the remaining areas of India without the capacity or capability to protect  soft targets and local police are not up to the job. The firm has issued warnings, advising competitors and officials to stay clear of tourist attractions, public areas and government buildings and not us public transport.

The company’s south Asia senior analyst Chietigi Bajpaee said that Control Risks had advised clients to expect terrorist attacks around India in the days running up to the Games and during the Games from 3rd to 14th October and that he thought that there is a relatively high likelihood of attacks taking place, but these attacks may not target the Games venues themselves. Chietigi Bajpaee went on to say that they have warned against going to tourist attractions and certain areas such as market places which are considered as soft targets as all security will be concentrated on the Games.

The advice proved to be justified when two Taiwanese tourists were shot outside the Jama Masijid, one of India’s largest mosques in the heart of Delhi last Sunday. Initial attempts to dampen any thoughts on terrorism were met with widespread disbelief with officials later pointing the finger at the Indian mujahideen who later claimed responsibility with the promise of further attacks. One source suggested the group had hired gunmen to randomly attack westerners on sight. The security warnings came after several threats to withdraw from the competition after a footbridge to the main stadium collapsed following the shooting of the two tourists.

Sachin Sandhir, head of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in India has expressed serious misgivings of the quality of the stadium, warning of serious shortcomings in the public and sporting infrastructure despite the estimated £6.3 billion spent, saying that the last minute dash to complete most of the venues has resulted in huge compromises on quality of projects, bypassing of clearances and exploitation of workers.

Sachin Sandhir went on to say that “structures caving in and showing signs of damage so soon after being built, (a ceiling collapsed last week) raises serious concerns of the structural quality, viability and safety of the venue and are indicative of gross violations of building codes and regulations and the level of adherence to ethical professional practices.”

Sandhir criticized the Games as a wasted opportunity for India to showcase its talents, blaming rampant corruption, inefficiency, and lack of trained and qualified professionals and the allocation of construction works to ill suited agencies. “The absolute disregard to the use of standard material and equipment has also seriously jeopardized the safety of the venues. We can now only wait and watch and be hopeful that not all the venues were subjected to this lackadaisical approach to development and in fact some of these will actually deliver to international standards,” he said. The first members to arrive from the England team have stayed in a five star hotel after shocked officials regarded the accommodation in the Games village as unacceptable.

Work to improve the conditions is underway and minor details such as safety procedures and fire equipment are in place. The next group of athletes are due to arrive today with a lot of works still needed to be done if the Games are to go ahead. Around 7,000 athletes from 71 countries were expected, but several have pulled out following security fears, concerns over accommodation and the ongoing problem of dengue fever. Australia’s Dani Samuels, the world discus champion said her decision to pull out came after the shooting of the tourists.

English diver Peter Waterfield, a previous gold and silver medal winner pulled out saying he would not put himself at risk and that his wife and two children came first. He hoped that people would understand and respect his decision. The actions of keeping order will be made difficult, but Delhi’s police commissioner, YS Dadwal said that he was completely satisfied with security arrangements. He said, “I assure international athletes that there is foolproof security for the Commonwealth Games. There is no doubt over it.”

Reggie Colbeck

Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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