CWG will match Melbourne '06 Games: Kalmadi | delhi | Hindustan Times
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CWG will match Melbourne '06 Games: Kalmadi

delhi Updated: Sep 02, 2010 20:26 IST

Commonwealth Games organisers on Thursday dismissed widespread criticism ahead of the event and said athletes could expect top-class facilities when the action starts in Delhi on October 3.

The run-up to the Games has been dogged by delayed venues, corruption scandals, public rifts among officials and international concern ranging from dengue fever outbreaks to the risk of militant attacks.

Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the organising committee, said that one month ahead of the opening ceremony all preparations were on schedule for a Games that would match those held in Melbourne in 2006.

"I can assure you that all the infrastructure is in place," he told reporters.

"We have built the whole Games around the athletes and the facilities will be world-class." He said that fears about the event would be replaced by celebrations as soon as the 8,000 athletes and team officials from 71 nations and territories had arrived in Delhi. "There is a feeling that developing countries can't do it," he said.

"The same thing happened before the (football) World Cup in South Africa, but they showed the world they could do it, and so can India."

Delhi has faced an uphill struggle for more than a year to be ready in time, with the Commonwealth Games Federation repeatedly warning the city that it was behind schedule with venues, the athletes' village and transport links.

New metro stations are still under construction, much of Delhi remains littered with rubble from half-completed projects, and a heavy monsoon has caused chaos as authorities try to tidy up the city. "It will be a great Games for sure," Kalmadi told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club.

"All things are go and everything will be smooth." He stressed that a full security operation would be in place to protect participants and spectators, and said 1,800 doctors would be on call to deal with any cases of dengue fever.

The mosquito-borne disease causes deaths in Delhi every September and October, but numbers of those affected has been unusually high this year with at least 1,000 cases so far.

India's newspapers have blamed water-logged construction sites for encouraging mosquitoes, while also heaping criticism on the organisers over the Games' estimated three-billion-dollar cost.

Kalmadi said India was ready to host its first major international sporting event since the Asian Games in 1982, and encouraged residents to embrace the occasion by buying tickets and supporting the athletes.

He added that visitors were welcome to seek out charities working in the city, to see the reality of India's dire poverty, but warned people not to give money to child beggars. "I would advise them not to because then they would get surrounded," he said.