I accept the responsibility for CWG mess: Kalmadi

Last Updated: Sat, Sep 25, 2010 16:39 hrs

New Delhi: Often the butt of criticism, Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi on Saturday faced some tough questioning from journalists but he accepted moral responsibility for the mess ahead of the event.

"I am the chairman of Organising Committee and I will take all the responsibility. There is no issue. But I wish the venues were handed to us a little earlier," he told a press conference.

He also admitted that Organising Committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot's comments about hygienic standards between Indians and others were avoidable.

Embattled Kalmadi takes scribes around CWG village

Kalmadi, who was seated along with Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell and CEO Mike Hooper, said still some work to be done but was "confident" that it will be done before the opening ceremony on October three.

He also sidestepped the issue when he was questioned whether he feels that Fennell and CGF bosses are squarely putting the blame on the organising committee.

"I don't think he has pointed fingers at the OC. The developer has to hand the venues over to OC and then it is our responsibility. As far as the Games Village is concerned, 18 towers were handed to us and we completed the work on time. The rest 18 were handed over late and that what the problem is," he said.

Kalmadi sought to blame various agencies who were handed the rights for construction and renovation of the stadiums and Games village.

"Contrary to popular belief that OC had the right to spend Rs 30-40,000 crores on the organisation, we only had Rs 1,600 crore allotted. The rest was taken care by the government and Indian Olympic Association.

"Everyone had fixed responsibilities. Our job was to ensure that the athletes of all countries would reach safely, ensure that there safety is comfortable," Kalmadi said.

On security, he said they had been having meetings for the last couple of years. The home ministry and Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna have been holding constant meetings.

"We have had a CGF advisor who has been monitoring the progress of the work every second month," he said.

Kalmadi tried to play down the issue of Jama Masjid firing incident last Sunday and saying it has been blown out of proportion.

"The Jama Masjid (shootout) incident is not related to the Games. These are minor issues, blown out of proportion. There was already a proper security in place and it has been beefed up further," he said.

Elaborating on the security arrangements, Kalmadi explained that there will be two Police patrol cars -- one in front and the other behind every team bus. An armed police personnel will also be present in the bus.

"The international chefs de mission have also found the security to be fine," Kalmadi said adding there were deficiencies but in another couple of days, all work will be completed.

"We have some issues in the Games Village but I think it is a fine Village. Only that some blocks have to be cleaned up. But all the infrastructure is good...I can assure you that our aim is to host a good Games. Our aim is to do as good as Melbourne did in 2006," he said.

He told an English journalist that athletes were made to stay in a University Hostel during the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002 but they did not complain.

Incidentally, Pakistan's star hockey player Rehan Butt had pointed out on Friday about the pathetic staying conditions that athletes encountered during the Manchester edition.

Vuvuzelas set to make their presence felt during CWG

When a member of the Australian media asked whether this entire mess meant the end of the Olympic dream for India, he replied: "We will answer that question once the Games are over.

"Kalmadi was asked how the Indian contingent has checked in the Games Village when foreign athletes still have reservation staying over there, Fennell jumped to Kalmadi's defence.

"It's a matter of personal choice. The Indian athletes have felt that arrangements are fine. Also the part of the Village where they are staying, the work has been completed," Fennell said.

Both Fennell and Kalmadi could not answer a question as to why the fixtures of various events apart from squash and badminton have not been released.

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