Accommodation poses a problem

HYDERABAD OCT. 10. Where are the rooms, gentlemen? This can be the possible query of visiting athletes if officials have their say. For, the accommodation committee of the Afro-Asian Games is in a fix. Courtesy the demands of officials of various hues, who create an impression that they are more important or, at least, as important as the athletes. Consequently, the committee is finding itself short by about 100 rooms.

If the mood of the IOA fraternity and other `big bosses' is any indication, things can really go awry. Consider the simple statistics. The total requirement of accommodation is 4,500. And to make things easy, the panel has split it into four categories. Category I - special invitees, Ministers of foreign countries, members of Afro-Asian Committees, Continental Olympic Committee representatives - totalling 550. All of them in five-star hotels like the Taj Krishna, Taj Residency, ITC Grand Kakatiya and Hotel Sitara.

Category II -- Participating teams, coaches and managers (2,400). The break-up is as follows: Green Park (football teams), Fortune Katriya (shooting), Central Court (weightlifting - men), Quality Inn (tennis), Taj Tristar (weightlifting women), Indian School of Business (hockey - men), Hotel Golconda (hockey women), Amrutha Castle (boxing), Viceroy (African athletes), Manohar (Asian athletes), Aditya Park & Bassera (Asian swimming contingent), Hotel Regency, Belson Taj and Kamat Lingapur (African swimming contingent).

Category III - Technical officials (1,050) will be put up in hotels, guesthouses and institutional accommodation.

Category IV - Press and media expected to be about 300 and the committee has taken a tentative decision to put up foreign media in the Whisper Valley.

But things are not as simple as categorising the visitors. Objections have already begun besieging officials. The boxing contingent feels it's a "disgrace" to stay in Amrutha Castle. Similarly, swimming officials bluntly refused to be put up in Hotel Asrani International. And, piling on the agony is the demand of the firm that is in-charge of opening and closing ceremonies. It claims it has a legitimate right to have 500 rooms booked in all five-star hotels and nothing less.

Though the Government has given standing instructions to hotel managements not to entertain anyone other than related to the Games from October 20 to November 2, it is still struggling to fill in the gap. More worrying is the fact that the Afro-Asian Games Secretariat is not clearing the proposals at the requisite speed, officials point out.

Some hotel managements are already raising a dissenting voice that unless they are paid the promised 50 per cent as advance, they might well be forced to cancel the bulk bookings.

Clearly, the concept of having a separate AAG Secretariat, even while SAAP being asked to take care of some key subjects, is telling on the coordination front for obvious `clash of egos'.

If the officials handling this key subject have no other option but to please the big bosses from the IOA, which is descending on the city with a huge contingent of about 250 heads, and other officials the committee might well be forced to look for more funds than the allocated Rs.11 crores.