Wholesome praise for CWG, Chidambaram reviews security (Evening Lead)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NEW DELHI - With five days to go for the Commonwealth Games, the much-maligned Games Village came in for wholesome praise from visitors as Home Minister P. Chidambaram reviewed final security arrangements.

For a change, one delegation after another — including the Australians, who were the harshest critics until now — heaped accolades on the sprawling Village that will house some 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories who are pouring in for the Oct 3-14 event.

“We are happy with everything at the Village… We are happy with the traffic. I haven’t received a single complaint from the athletes about the Village. Accommodation is perfect, the dining area excellent,” said the Australian chef de mission Steve Moneghetti.

“The only worry is the movement of our athletes has been restricted (due to security reasons),” Moneghetti, who was mayor of the Melbourne Village in 2006, told IANS.

His Nigerian counterpart Elias Usman Gora spoke in similar vein.

Nigerian athletes are “very happy and impressed” with the Games facilities, have started training and are optimistic about winning medals, he said.

With the clock ticking away for India’s biggest sporting meet after the 1982 Asian Games, the Village is full of life — with many busy practising and preparing for the contest.

Chidambaram met with his officials amid concerns within and outside the country that terrorists could target the event.

The meting was attended by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, chiefs of the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing, Delhi Police commissioner Y.S. Dadwal and officials dealing with CWG security and internal security.

“Everything is looked after,” a confident Dadwal told reporters.

Chidambaram later toured the 24X7 Control Room for the Games, set up in North Block, which houses the home ministry.

As the police enforced the CWG exclusive lane travel system for Games participants, Delhi’s harried commuters were stuck in many traffic jams in various parts of the city.

Since Monday, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were deployed in Delhi’s skies to detect aerial intrusions. Army helicopters hovered over the Games Village, where some 2,000 athletes and officials have checked in.

In New York, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that India looked forward to welcoming and hosting participants of the Commonwealth Games.

“India eagerly looks forward to welcoming sportspersons and officials … to Delhi,” Krishna told foreign ministers of Commonwealth countries Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Preparations are in full swing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the heart of the Indian capital for the grand opening ceremony where composer and Oscar winner A.R. Rahman will perform Oct 3.

But India’s famed Bollywood quotient will take a back seat, giving primacy to the country’s cultural heritage.

The opening ceremony will involve dances, drums, music, yoga, textiles, the sights, sounds and colours of India, encapsulating 5,000 years of culture.

“Everything is fine. The rehearsals are on in full swing, everything is ready - the stage, the sound and lights… we are ready,” Viraf Sarkari, director of Wizcraft International Entertainment, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Filed under: Commonwealth Games

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