New Delhi: Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell on Friday accused besieged Delhi organisers of “blunders” and “inexperience” as the disaster-hit event lurched from one crisis to another.
Fennell, who has faced a daily barrage of criticism over the running of the 11-day showpiece, hit out at the farcical scenes which saw Australian 100m runner Sally Pearson stripped of her gold medal late Thursday.
He also feared that delays in negotiations over access to the airspace over New Delhi could seriously compromise television coverage of the road cycling and marathon events.
Pearson was disqualified as 100m winner after a false start, but she was only informed that an appeal had been launched as she was preparing to receive the gold medal.
“There was a problem over communicating that appeals had been launched. There was a major communication blunder by the athletics officials,” said Fennell.
“If there is a protest, then the athletes should be put on hold and told the reasons why. We received complaints about it. That treatment is unsatisfactory.”
Fennell was also angry over the failure to obtain permission for helicopters to fly over the city to film the road race cycling on Sunday and Wednesday, as well as the men’s and women’s marathons on Thursday.
“We need helicopters to cover the races but they need to fly into restricted airspace over the capital,” he explained.
“Today we are seeking approval for the TV helicopters to fly into those areas.”
However, when pressed, Fennell admitted that clearance should have been agreed before the Games got underway.
“There is no Plan B. Clearance should have been gained, but it’s inexperience of holding major events. The planning should have been in place.”
“If venues had been delivered earlier it would have been better. The absence of test events hampered preparations.”
Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general of the organising committee, insisted that his colleagues were up to the job despite a catalogue of problems which have hit the Games.
There have been allegations of corruption, shoddy workmanship, fears over terrorism, health and transportation while over 50 swimmers complained of falling ill with a variety of complaints linked to water quality in the pools.
“We are fully competent,” said Bhanot, who shared a Friday news conference alongside Fennell and was taking the place of Suresh Kalmadi, the widely-ridiculed organising committee chairman.
“There are issues with the helicopters but the Cabinet Secretary is now involved.”