LAHORE: The Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) President Lt-General (retd) Syed Arif Hasan has said that the authorities were closely monitoring the situation in India ahead of the Commonwealth Games before confirming that the 75-member delegation is due to leave on September 29.
The Games have been plunged into crisis 12 days from the start after the athletes’ village was described as “uninhabitable” and a footbridge collapsed at the main stadium. The approximately 100-metre long pedestrian bridge fell down just outside the main Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which will host the opening ceremony and athletics when the showpiece event begins on October 3.
This followed security concerns after a gun attack on a tourist bus outside a mosque in New Delhi on Sunday, which has added to security woes ahead of the Games.
“Pakistan is monitoring all the growing aspects to address any concerns that its contingent might face for the Games,” Hasan told The Express Tribune. “Government on its part would take appropriate steps, if necessary, to ensure security of its squad.”
Hasan however, said that Pakistan received a letter from the Games committee, assuring them of security.
“We received a letter from the committee to ensure security during the event but our security official [Additional IG Islamabad] is going to India to monitor the situation,” added Hasan. “But we have made all the arrangements and the delegation is due to leave on September 29.”
Earlier, the Games’ organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi assured that there were no security concerns after the attack while a top official suggested that complaints about cleanliness in the village were due to the exacting demands.
“Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards, we have different ones,” said Organising Committee Secretary-General Lalit Bhanot.
He said, however, that the workers were instructed to deliver “the quality of hygiene to make our guests happy”.
Growing concerns among participants
Australian discus world champion Dani Samuels pulled out because of security and health concerns, according to her coach. England and Scotland’s teams are also concerned the poor quality of the village may put the event in doubt.
Scottish officials found their original accommodation to be “unsafe and unfit for human habitation”.
However, England are “optimistic” they will compete but say urgent work is needed before the Games begin. (With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2010.
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