Visiting teams unhappy with the state of the Games Village are being put up at five star hotels across the city. Who’s paying their bills? The taxpayer.
Sources at the highest level of the Games Organising Committee (OC) confirmed to HT that every team that so desires will be housed in a hotel till it is satisfied with living conditions at the Village and agrees to move in. The OC, funded by the government, will pay for this.
Rates at these hotels range from R8,000-22,000 per room per night. Almost all major five-star hotels have received bookings, with many already hosting delegates.
The Ashoka, the Games’ official hotel, is completely booked with advance parties of many foreign squads staying there as well as other Games and Commonwealth Games Federation officials. The Taj Palace reportedly has 18 rooms booked for administrators.
“The teams had been promised top-quality accommodation at the Games Village, free of cost,” said an OC member. "Since the Village has fallen short of the mark, it is now the duty of the committee to provide suitable alternative accommodation. The bill will be massive, but there is nothing else to be done."
Another source, present at the meeting of the chiefs of mission, said, “All the big nations demanded hotels and (OC chief) Mr Kalmadi promised them that until they were happy with the Village, they would get five-star accommodation.”
The Malaysian lawn bowls team, which arrived on Friday night, also checked straight into a hotel. The first batch of English athletes, including their men's hockey and lawn bowls squads, are already in hotels.
Some large contingents, like Canada, however, said that they will not bring their athletes into the country till the rooms in the Village were ready to be lived in. But this is only minor respite. The rooms have been booked indefinitely, and the numbers are unclear.
While most hotels said they could not give out information on guests, HT has learnt that the Maurya Sheraton had 64 beds booked for five delegations including those from Nigeria, Bermuda and the Cook Islands. “They are booked until the Village is ready,” said a staffer.
A top source in the hotel industry said, “Rooms in all the big hotels are being booked. The sad state of the Village has come as a windfall for Delhi's hotels.”