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Tempers flare in morning meeting

Another morning at the Games Village began with a two-hour chiefs of mission meeting. Present were the top brass of the OC, representative of the Delhi Police, and all the heads of the delegations that have arrived in Delhi.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2010 23:57 IST
Siddhanth Aney

Another morning at the Games Village began with a two-hour chiefs of mission meeting. Present were the top brass of the OC, representative of the Delhi Police, and all the heads of the delegations that have arrived in Delhi. Compared to last morning, HT sources indicated that Saturday was much calmer. The off the record word was that after the Indian government got involved, the governments of the countries present here told their missions to tone down the criticism, and get on with preparations.

Craig Hunter, the English boss, who was one of the most vociferous in his protests yesterday, began by applauding the work that was being done in the Village, and appreciating the effort being put in by all parties. He did however add that ‘As of now I will not bring my team into the Village’.

Sources indicated that while the meeting began on a more positive note, things were soon back to normal. The visitors had many of the same complaints, and the organizers, the same responses. There were several complaints about the drivers of the vehicles hired to ferry officials around. Sources said that most of the drivers were in fact new to Delhi, spoke little or no English and did not know the roads. This has led to a number of officials getting lost, or seriously delayed.

There were also complaints about the dedicated CWG lanes on the roads of the Capital, with many saying that at most times these lanes were as clogged as the rest of the streets. Demands were made for police escorts to be provided to all team officials, irrespective of their role or designation. As of now, escorts are only being given those that fall in the T1 category- association presidents, secretaries, chiefs of mission, general team managers and of course, athletes. Sources said that the Commonwealth Games Federation backed this demand.

Delhi police Special Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, in charge of Games security, argued against both these points. He stressed that the Games lanes could only be kept in operation for very specific timeframes, because otherwise the city would come to a standstill. He also said it was impossible to provide police escorts to every single official.

Things apparently got really heated up when delegations complained about the official vehicles of ministers and other officials entering the Games Village without going through a security check. Hunter, according to one source, said, if he could be subjected to security checks, so should everyone else, including the vehicles of Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit. At that point the Indian officials raised strong objections, saying that the vehicles were already sanitized by the police, and that these checks would go against protocol. "if the Queen or the Prince of Wales were to visit the Village, their cars would also not be checked while they were in them," one Indian official commented. The argument only died down when top OC officials intervened saying that these decision were based on government protocol, and not in their purview.