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Contingents Satisfied With CWG Arrangement, Pull Outs Continue

 New Delhi, Sep 28: The relentless scathing criticism around the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games today waned with top sporting nations Australia and England leading a stream of contingents in expressing satisfaction at the arrangements in the
PTI September 28, 2010 20:13 IST
PTI
 New Delhi, Sep 28: The relentless scathing criticism around the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games today waned with top sporting nations Australia and England leading a stream of contingents in expressing satisfaction at the arrangements in the village even as star pull-outs continued.

 New Zealand, one of the countries which raised a strong pitch on the issue of cleanliness, also expressed satisfaction with the condition at the Village while neighbouring Pakistan also took a U-turn after its initial complaints yesterday.

 Sensing the positive buzz in the controversy-marred Games, Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi asserted that all the 71 participating nations have reposed full faith in them to pull off a spectacular show.

"Three thousand athletes and officials have already entered, many (visitors) are coming and returning home satisfied. Let me tell you that all the 71 participating nations have full confidence that we will do it well."

"Notwithstanding the controversy and all the bad publicity that has come out, I want to make it clear that the Commonwealth Games infrastructure is fully ready... the Games Village is in place," Kalmadi said.

 However, top athletes continued to pull out of the Games, already hit hard by star withdrawals.

South African world champion 800m runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi today became the latest high-profile athlete to pull out of Commonwealth Games due to injury while English tennis player Richard Bloomfield also decided to skip the event.

 Mulaudzi, who won men's 800m gold in the Berlin World Championships last year and a silver winner in the 2004 Athens Olympics, has a nagging back injury problem.

 Another South African and women's 800m world champion, Caster Semenya will take a decision on her participation in the Games following a back injury.

Australia, which has been severely critical of the Games arrangements, today said they are satisfied over the preparations and sought to downplay the remarks of its Prime Minister Julia Gillard cautioning her countrymen while travelling in India.

Three days after India took exception to Gillard's comments with regard to security here, High Commissioner Peter Varghese said, "I don't think we should read too much into it" as she only stated the "factual material" in the travel advisory.

He said Australian authorities are "impressed" with the "strong commitment" and "vigour" on the part of organisers with regard to security arrangements.

Australian Chef-de-Mission Steve Moneghetti said his country's athletes earlier had some doubts about the conditions at the Village but were pleasantly surprised after checking-in at their accommodations.

 "There were some doubts regarding the condition at the Village before coming but our athletes have been pleasantly surprised after the feel of the arena themselves. There has been no problem as such. We are happy with the residential tower, training facilities and dinning area. Our team is arriving in batches. Some have arrived and some will check into the Games Village in the next 48 hours," he said.

 England, whose first batch of athletes were put up in city hotels initially before checking into the Village after the cleaning works in their residential zone were over, said they are "reasonably satisfied" with the facilities at the Games Village.

"This is not a five star ... it is reasonable three star and athletes are fine with that," England's Chief-de Mission, Craig Hunter said.

 One of the New Zealand coaches, Dave Edwards said his country's athletes have no complaints after their first night in the Village.

"Obviously, there's been a bit of work over the past few days, but as far as we're concerned, it's fine. There's a little bit of dust and some poor finishing with plaster and paint and things like that, but we're very happy with what we've got," he said.

"Our flats are roomy and spacious in that regard and the rest of the Village is all fine. The dining hall is excellent," he added.

 A day after complaining about the arrangements at the Games Village, Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik took a U-Turn and expressed satisfaction at the facilities, saying most of his country's athletes will check in at the 63.5 acre sprawling complex here tomorrow.

 "We are quite satisfied with the facilities and the credit for this goes to Delhi chief minister Shiela Dikshit, who has taken personal interest," Malik said.

 "Pakistan has never raised any security issue and never did they say that they are not willing to stay at the village. We are satisfied with the security and 90 per cent of our athletes are coming tomorrow and the rest will be coming in a day or two," he said.

His Bangladesh counterpart Tarik A Karim also gave a thumbs up to the arrangements and said athletes from his country will arrive here on Thursday.

 Meanwhile, foreign contingents continue to check-in at the Village with around 3000 athletes and officials from 46 countries having given accommodation at the 63.5 hectare sprawling campus.

Another 850 foreign athletes and officials are arriving the national capital later today. PTI