In the eye of a storm over the shoddy state of the Commonwealth Games Village, Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi finally broke his silence today saying that the international chefs de mission are much "happier then before" with the state of affairs.
Kalmadi, who had maintained a stoic silence since the foot over-bridge collapse near the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, said he addressed the concerns raised by international delegates in a meeting today.
"I had a meeting with all the chef de missions today and they are happier then they were before," Kalmadi told reporters at the airport where he had gone to receive Commonwealth Games Federation Mike Fennell. Fennell is on an emergency trip to India and has even sought time with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the preparations after the Games' Village was lambasted as "filthy and uninhabitable" by international delegates. Despite the raging row, Kalmadi reiterated that preparations are on track, including at the much-criticised Village.
"From today everything is going to be fine. I know how to take criticism in my stride. I can assure you that we will have a good Games and we will take care of everybody and they will have a good time," he assured. "All of them (international delegates) said that this is a great Village when they went to the international zone, dining zone and the kitchen. Everybody said they were out of the world, including (CGF CEO) Mr Mike Hooper.
"The only problem was the living area. 18 blocks were handed over to us earlier which were in good shape but the rest were handed over later and there were certain problems but we have sorted that out now," he said. Asked about star athletes pulling out because of security concerns, Kalmadi said, "There are two-three pullouts. But security is well in place but if some people have their own perception, I can't do anything about it.
"All the buses from Village to venues would be escorted by police and full security would be in place. Whatever their doubts, we have cleared them," he added. "Teams will start arriving tomorrow. We are in a much happier position now."