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Michael Fennell arrives tomorrow, organisers to face tough questions

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 - 4:38pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI
There is speculation that Fennell may meet prime minister Manmohan Singh to urge him take urgent action to save the Games.

The embattled organisers of the scandal-marred Commonwealth Games will have a lot of explaining to do to their international boss Michael Fennell when he arrives in New Delhi tomorrow on the opening of the much-criticised Athletes' Village.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief Fennell had shot off a letter to cabinet secretary on Monday, detailing the "unlivable" conditions at Athletes' Village, which along with a footbridge collapse near the main Games venue yesterday, had triggered withdrawal of two high-profile athletes besides pull out threats from some countries.

Fennell, whose visit to New Delhi was scheduled earlier, had given time till tomorrow to the organisers to take immediate steps and sort out issues in the residential zone of the Village, which he said has "shocked" advance parties from New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland because of its unhygienic conditions.

There is also speculation that Fennell may meet prime minister Manmohan Singh to urge him take urgent action to save the Games.

"The final preparations for the Games Village have been of concern to the CGF since viewing the residential zone along with a number of Commonwealth Games Associations advance parties on September 15," Fennel had said in a strongly-worded statement.

"Many issues remain unresolved and I wrote to the Indian cabinet secretary, expressing my great concern with the preparedness of Athletes Village.

The condition of residential zone has shocked majority of CGAs that are in Delhi.

"However, with the Village to be officially opened on September 23, timely acceptable solutions to prepare for the arrival of athletes are of paramount importance," he said.

Within hours of CGF chief's scathing attack on the organisers, world champion Australian discus thrower Dani Samuel led the pull out bandwagon citing Sunday's gun attack on two tourists and the recent outbreak of dengue fever here.

Another world champion, England's Phillips Idowu, who was the defend his 1500m gold he won in 2006 Games, followed suit, saying that his safety is more important than the medal.

Hours before Idowu's pull out, compatriots -- Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and Melbourne Games 1500m gold medallist Lisa Dobriskey -- also decided to skip the Games due to injuries, seriously depleting the star presence in the CWG after the withdrawal of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Chris Hoy, David Rudish, Shelly-An Fraser among others.

England and New Zealand issued warnings to clean up the mess quickly if the Games is to be held while Scotland delayed their tomorrow's scheduled departure of its athletes.

Despite the scathing criticism from the CGF chief, the organising committee said that the matter was not something for which it should be ashamed of and it was due to different perceptions in standard of cleanliness.

"It (cleanliness of Games Village) is not such a big issue which we should be ashamed of. This will not affect the Games. For us and for you it is clean. But they (the foreign countries) have a different standard of cleanliness.

"It is a matter of difference in perception," secretary general of the organising committee, Lalit Bhanot said.

"Anyway, we have now upgraded the level of cleanliness which should be there according to them. We will complete the cleaning up of the Village in next two days," he said yesterday.

The build-up to the Games, starting on October 3, have been marred by a series of controversies, including corruption allegations against the organisers, threats of terror attack and dengue fever.


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