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Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 12:48 UK

Games chief rejects Delhi claims

By Phil Dawkes

Mike Fennell (left) and Mike Hooper (right)
Mike Hooper (right) and Mike Fennell (left) tour Delhi in October

Commonwealth Games chief executive Mike Hooper has rejected suggestions from the organisers of the 2010 event in Delhi that he has hindered their work.

Suresh Kalmadi, the head of Delhi 2010 committee, said Hooper had been "no use to us" and called for his replacement.

"I reject entirely that I've been an impediment to any progress," Hooper told BBC Sport.

Last month, Federation president Mike Fennell warned that construction delays posed a serious threat to the Games.

New Zealander Hooper has spent the last two years in Delhi as the main link between the host city and the Federation, but concerns have grown that facilities in Delhi will not be ready for October next year.

He said: "I believe if I had not been here the last two years, pushing them and challenging them the Games would be even further behind.

"It seems to be a case of shooting the messenger rather than addressing the message."

Hooper described Kalmadi's comments as an "unfortunate personal attack" and continued: "What we should be focusing on is the issues, not the personalities."

Hooper's input was severely criticised by Kalmadi on Thursday.

"The presence of Mr. Michael Hooper, chief of the Commonwealth Games Federation has not proved beneficial to the organizing committee of the Games," said Kalmadi.

"Instead he has only been an impediment to the functioning despite two years in the capital. He's been of no use. We want the Games Federation to replace him."

In a statement released on Monday, Fennell revealed the concerns of the Federation over the slow progress made constructing the various venues and said that a technical committee, which will meet every month, was being set up to meet to monitor progress and report back with their findings.

Delhi has been undertaking major infrastructure work, including the installation of new metro lines, in preparation for next year.

However, transport was highlighted as one problem area by Fennell, along with others ranging from ticketing and accommodation to accreditation and logistics.

"It's no secret the Games preparations are not as they should be," said Hooper.

"My board, our president and our general assembly of members made that loud and clear on Monday. There's a lot of work to be done."

606: DEBATE

Monday's statement followed a leaked letter, written by Fennell last September, in which he expressed doubts about the ability of the Indian organisers to deliver the Games on time.

"Both Mr Kalmadi and Mr Singh said recently in the media that Mr Fennell's leaked letter was a wake-up call," he said.

"Unfortunately they haven't woken up and responded as one would hope by addressing the issues. Instead they've launched a personal attack.

"What the organising committee and its chairman doesn't seem to want is somebody here pushing them and cajoling them and making sure things get done as they should."

However, despite such difficulties Hooper remains confident that the organising committee and officials will fulfil their obligation to host a successful Games as scheduled.

"I'm heartened by the fact that the minister of sport MS Gill came to our general assembly and acknowledged that things are not as they should be," he said.

"He gave a commitment from the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and the government that they will do whatever is necessary to deliver an outstanding Games.

"If they all live up to that promise and do what they say then it can be a great Games.

"We've got just the right amount of time to fix it and get it right and that is what we need to focus on not attacking individuals."



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see also
India 'behind schedule' for Games
12 Oct 09 |  South Asia
Team appointed for Games handover
05 Oct 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
India admits 2010 Games problems
15 Sep 09 |  South Asia
Deadline looms for Delhi Games
30 Jul 09 |  Business
Court allows Indian Games village
30 Jul 09 |  South Asia
Pune Games prompt Delhi concerns
23 Oct 08 |  Other sport...


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