Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Even as he expressed his satisfaction with the overall progress in several areas of preparations for the Games, Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Mike Fennell on Thursday issued a warning to the Games Organising Committee (OC) that a lot more needed to be done.

“There are a lot of areas of concern. I compliment (Suresh) Kalmadi and his team, but I still issue a warning; there is a lot to be done,” said Fennell at a press conference he and Kalmadi addressed on the occasion of the Chefs de Mission seminar.

The main worry, Fennell said, related to the progress of work at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Talkatora swimming pool as well as the weightlifting venue.

He pointed out that construction of stadia did not come under the OC and there were several agencies involved in it. Everything, he was told, would be completed by the end of June.

Fennell said his concern was not just related to the completion of infrastructure but also about holding test events.

The CGF Chief expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements being made for the October Games. “We are pleased with the progress…but we can't give guarantees. Who knows what is going to happen…I am satisfied with the arrangements on behalf of the federation,” he said.

The delegates for the seminar visited various stadia sites and the Games Village and were impressed with the facilities being created, according to Fennell.

Fennell said an elaborate anti-doping set-up was being readied for the Games and the delegates were explained the procedures to be followed. “We want to ensure a Games free of doping.”

Kalmadi, OC Chairman, when asked about the possibility of crowds being discouraged to come and witness the events during the Games because of the oppressive security arrangements, said that the OC had a meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs and impressed upon it the need to follow ‘sports protocol'.

“We will strike a balance,” said Kalmadi about the need to encourage fans to not just come but enjoy the sports events without being harassed by the security.

The crowds, incidentally, are being kept away from the so-called test events (barring the World Cup which is an FIH event) and one can only wonder how an event without the crowds could be tested for any aspect, especially security, gate control, refreshment kiosks, water and electricity requirements, toilet facilities etc.

The media has had a taste of the security arrangements that could be in store for the Games, first at the Commonwealth shooting championships, followed by World Cup hockey and the international archery meet.

‘Test events'

From Friday there will be the Commonwealth boxing championship also. All these events are being treated as ‘test events' for the Commonwealth Games. ‘Testing' so far has been concentrated on the harassment of the media and preventing teams, technical and supervisory officials from gaining access to the venues.

Even for Thursday's press conference, the media was asked to go through the same police verification procedures that sought every irrelevant detail unconnected with security, at a 48-hour notice.

Accreditation cards were then given at the venue of the conference in several cases but eventually, after being guided through the hotel lobby and corridors, no one even checked whether any reporter or cameraman was carrying a valid accreditation card!

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