After OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who has had his fair share of slips of tongue, it was the turn of CGOC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot to do the same.
At the customary press conference at the Main Press Centre in Pragati Maidan on Saturday, Bhanot was left embarrassed after misinterpreting a question on reports of a South African swimmer calling Indian spectators ‘monkeys’.
Asked about reports of Roland Schoeman remarks that ‘it was unacceptable to be at a professional event like this and have people going on like monkeys’, a bemused Bhanot at first responded, “There are monkeys in that area and we are trying to get them out of there.”
As journalists tried to figure out what he meant, the OC official was explained by an aide what the question exactly was. Fennell and Hooper, who were seated alongside Bhanot, found it hard to control their laughter at the slip-up. Sheepishly, Bhanot said he was unaware of any such report.
“I have no information on that,” he said. Quizzed further on what the Indian organisers plan to do to respond to the ‘derogatory’ comparison, Bhanot said since these were ‘friendly’ Games, no protest would be lodged.
“These are friendly Games. If it has happened, it is unfortunate. But nothing can be done because these are friendly Games," he said.
Fennell offered a more serious explanation for the reported crowd trouble at the archery and swimming events. “As far as the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is concerned, we do not tolerate improper and racist behaviour but this is problem all over the world and it has to be stopped,” he said. “Right around the world, it (crowd control) is a key issue. We have special sports presenters. They ensure that crowds keep quiet in sensitive moments of play.”