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Complaints Subside, More Athletes Check In

New Delhi, Sep 27 : Things began to look up for the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games as complaints about the village subsided and international athletes continued to check in on a relatively controversy-free day for the
PTI September 27, 2010 22:55 IST
PTI
New Delhi, Sep 27 : Things began to look up for the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games as complaints about the village subsided and international athletes continued to check in on a relatively controversy-free day for the organisers.

After weeks of scandals, star pullouts and criticism over the state of the Games Village, the hassled organisers heaved a sigh of relief as traditional powerhouses such as Australia, Canada and a second batch of English athletes checked in. There were also no individual pullouts from the event today.  

However, there were some unsavoury developments on the sidelines of the Games' build-up with the Commonwealth Games Federation and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit locked in a verbal duel.

A day after CGF CEO Mike Hooper's criticism blaming authorities for the lack of preparations and reportedly blamed traffic snarls in Delhi on India's vast population, Dikshit hit back at him. "It is really a very unkind and undiplomatic remark that has been made," Dikshit told reporters here.  

However, Hooper received strong backing from CGF boss Mike Fennell, who insisted that the New Zealander neither blamed the Indian government nor made any disparaging comments about India, as was reported in the media.

"Far from any emotive commentary, Mr Hooper merely stated the fact that the responsibility for delivering and operating the Games lies with authorities in India, as per the Host City contract," Fennell said. "What I have witnessed today is a vicious and totally unwarranted attack on Mike Hooper based on entirely false reports," Fennell added.  

The athletes continued to arrive with England (61), Australia (59) and Canada (30), Scotland (77) along with South Africa (113) checked in at the Village and gave mixed feedback on the campus, which has been severely criticised for poor cleanliness in its residential towers.

While the Scots felt the facilities could have been better as Delhi got seven years to prepare after winning the bid, the Aussies, who were among the most apprehensive about coming to the Indian capital, gave a thumbs up to their living area.

"I am not concerned at all because once people get here they will want to be a part of the Commonwealth Games experience," Australian chef de mission Steve Moneghetti said.

"I am very confident. I have seen nothing here (to disrupt the Games). The Games will be going on in full swing and the athletes will have the stage and environment to perform their best," he added.

Embattled OC boss Suresh Kalmadi attacked the Village developers on the issue of cleanliness, saying, "Cleaning is not my job, it should have come clean to us when it was handed over." Kalmadi also insisted that all major problems have been sorted out and a majority of the flats were ready to be occupied.  

"People are now happy with whatever they have got. Over a 1000 people have come now and they are very happy. Most of the athletes are happy," Kalmadi said. "80 per cent of the flats are fine. The sun is out and everything will be fine. All the athletes are happy," he said.  

Dikshit also appeared to blame the DDA, which comes under the Union Urban Affair Ministry, when she said the buildings in the Village had seepage which the DDA and the builder should have looked at before handing over. "We inherited it (the Village) in a very difficult situation. It is improving by almost the hour. We are working very hard (to make things right)."

"I do hope that at the end of it everything will be alright...of course there are some seepages which the builder and the DDA should have looked at earlier," Dikshit said. PTI