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CWG venues battling against time: Hooper

September 05, 2010 20:44 IST

India's failure to ensure that all the Commonwealth Games venues and the athletes' village comply with safety provision norms could jeopardise the organisation of the event, according to CGF CEO Mike Hooper, who said the organisers have allowed "things to go down to the wire".

Acknowledging that lot of work still needs to be done, Hooper said that they are yet to receive confirmation from the Organising Committee that the village or any of the venues are structurally safe and sound and that failure to do so could place one or two sporting events in danger.

Thousands of athletes from 71 Commonwealth nations will start to arrive from September 16 to take up residence in the Games village and to start training at the venues.

"Things are surely going to go down to the wire. It's a battle against time. If the Organising Committee failed to provide the safety certifications on time, if we can't get the documentation of the Games village and the venues on time, then a particular event or so may be in trouble," Hooper said.

"Whether it's about venue safety at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium or any other stadium, clearly we are all aware of the CVC report last month and implications of that report suggests sub-standard materials and fabricated case results. That's a matter of concern to us.

"Despite many promises made by the government agencies to deliver the documentation to validate and verify all the buildings standards have been met, fire safety certificates have been issued, we (CGF) still have not been able to get them and that still remains a cause of great concern to us," Hooper told Karan Thapar in Devil's Advocate programme.

"You can't occupy the venue unless you have building completion certificates. People are due to arrive at the Games village from September 16. They can't occupy the Games village unless the building certification is not there. They can't go to the venue unless venues certification is not there," he said.

In late July, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had cited suspected sub-standard building practices at a number of Games' venues and in its report accused construction firms of inflating their costs.

The CVC inspected 15 sporting venues and found fabricated case material and evidences that regulatory approvals had been forged.

The CGF responded by asking the concerned government agencies to provide building certificates by August 18 that confirm all of the venues are safe to operate, a deadline missed by the authorities.

It was decided to provide the required documentation by August 31, but officials failed to do so.

Hooper said without the building certificates, he is unable to allay any fears from countries participating in the Games and that he has been assured by the OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi to get them early next week.

"I am hopeful that based on the discussion with Kalmadi, we will soon have them, may be next week. That's a very critical issue to us and one that is very easy to allay the fears of Commonwealth Games Association. They (OC) should have it by now. They should follow the international rules," Hooper, one of the strong critic of the Delhi Games earlier, said.

On the issue that there could be substantial and serious damage to the athletic track at JLN stadium because of the incessant monsoon rains, Hooper said if there is any damage to the track then it will have to be re-certified by the IAAF before the event.

"To my knowledge there has been some subsiding due to heavy rains in the grass area in the middle of the track and  that has been addressed. But certainly if there is any serious damage in the track itself then it will have to be re-certified by the IAAF because it was certified previously back in July. But if there is some damage on the track then it has to be looked into," he said.

Casting apprehension over the work done by the city civic agencies in getting the Games village done on time, Hooper said there have always been issues all along the way and DDA, Emaar MGF developers and other should get their act together to complete the work on time.

"It's fair to acknowledge that there have been issues all along. A lot of them linked to the delivery of the Games Village to get their work done on time. When me and Fennell visited the village on August 18 there were many towers which have been handed over to the Organising Committee. But you have to understand that officials will start arriving from September 16 and DDA and developers should get their act together and complete the work on time," he said.

Hooper, however, strongly refuted the suggestion that postponement of the Games is the only option left with the organisers.

There is no question of changing the dates of the Games. No postponement. Not at all. Instead of panicking about it we should focus on getting things right. All the things, building certificates, kitchen, catering, have to be done in an urgent manner and that's the message everyone should understand.

"We have 28 days to go and we have to make sure that things that matter to the athletes put right. I know there would going to be some issues as we head for the Games. But key to have successful Games in place is to ensuring that we have right system in place here in India," Hooper said.

When asked about whether he endorses Kalmadi and Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy's repeated claim that these will be the best Commonwealth Games ever, Hooper said he doesn't make these sorts of judgments.

"At the end of the day athletes will decide whether these are successful games or not."

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