On Sunday, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Michael Fennell’s angry letter to Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC), was leaked to the media.
The letter expressed complete dissatisfaction with the pace of work for the Games and demanded a meeting with the Prime Minister.
On Monday, the OC’s executive board members themselves said something along similar lines. So did Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
“We are satisfied but nervous about the preparations for the Games,” Dikshit told the media. “We will not allow them to suffer and we are also keeping all alternatives ready in case of delays in some of the projects.”
She later described her reaction as natural. “Anybody handling an event of this size will be nervous. I would be inhuman not to feel nervous,” she said.
Asked for her response to Fennell’s criticism of the slow pace of work on Games projects and his desire to take up the issue with the Prime Minister, Dikshit refused to comment.
“Mr Fennell did not talk to me so I can’t comment. Anybody can meet the PM. He did not meet me. Normally, he tells me where he went and what he saw. But what you will see in 2010, you can’t expect to see in 2009,” said Dikshit.
Others Dikshit’s statement has probably made a lot many people very nervous.
“Everybody is very nervous about it,” said National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president and DGOC executive board member Digvijay Singh.
“The situation at the Karni Singh Shooting Range is bad and needs urgent attention.” Another executive board member and Archery Association of India president, VK Malhotra, said while there could be some exaggeration on the part of Fennell, the fact that so many Games projects had been shelved was itself a fair marker of the slow pace.
“The Asian Archery championships which were to be held at the Yamuna Sports Complex had to be shifted to Kolkata because of delays. I’m not sure we’ll get the venue before June next year. That will leave us absolutely no time to prepare our archers for the Games.”
Another IOA official said on condition of anonymity that IOA president Suresh Kalmadi (the OC chairman) had not convened a single meeting of IOA’s executive committee over a year.
“Most (DGOC staffers) have been drawn from the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in Pune last year and that was their first job. In fact, Fennell termed the CYG an utter failure,” he said.
“Now they are planning to send a contingent of hundreds to receive the Queen’s Baton in London. Here, things are still incomplete and we are being told to practise austerity. It makes no sense.”