New Delhi: The 2010 Commonwealth Games will adopt security methods similar to those used at last year’s Beijing Olympics, its chief said on Wednesday, allaying fears the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team could scupper the event.
Speculation about the fate of the Games, due to be held in New Delhi, has intensified since last year’s attacks in Mumbai and Tuesday’s bloody ambush in Lahore which left six players and a coach wounded and eight people dead.
A number of Australian athletes — the top team in the games — have already expressed reservations about competing in India, with former swimming champion Dawn Fraser even calling for the event to be moved.
“We don’t want another Munich,” Fraser said, referring to the deadly attacks on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. “With an attack like that you wouldn’t be sending any team over to that region at all. You wouldn’t be sending any away in this climate.”
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chiefs held a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, where security was elaborately discussed, organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said.
“We’re working on security, it has always been an issue with us from the beginning,” he said on Wednesday.
“The Pune (2008 Commonwealth Youth Games) security was also an issue and everything went off well.
“We’re tying up things, with a lot of CCTV’s etc. We’re using very modern methods which were also used in Beijing (Olympics) last year.
“A lot of things are moving ahead as this is our number one concern,” he said. “We’re monitoring it on a day-to-day basis.”
The CGF security chief had also visited India and discussed security details with the Delhi police and interior ministry officials, he added.
Earlier, a top Australian sports official gave his backing to keeping the Games in India despite growing concerns over security.
Perry Crosswhite, the president of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, said the CGF had called a teleconference to discuss the latest incident but there were no plans to relocate the Games.
“At this stage, the Games are on at Delhi 2010 and we have no reason to believe that they won’t take place,” Crosswhite said.
“Like everyone else I am shocked that they attacked a sporting team, and Pakistan cricket is so popular, for terrorists to do this is almost unheard of.
“We are not saying the Games are going to be cancelled.”
More than 4,000 athletes from over 50 countries are expected to compete in 17 sports at the New Delhi Games, making it the biggest sporting event held in India.
Among the athletes likely to compete at New Delhi are Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice and British cyclist Chris Hoy, who each won three gold medals at last year’s Beijing Olympics.
Crosswhite said India was planning a massive security operation for the Commonwealth Games but he could understand why some athletes may still be hesitant to go.
“I don’t think anyone can guarantee anybody’s safety any more,” he said.
“If we did feel that those security issues were beyond an acceptable level we would have no hesitation in making our views known to the athletes.
“It is up to the athletes whether they go or not. We won’t force them to go.”
Kalmadi said security perception had gone up after the Mumbai attacks in November which killed about 170 people.
“We’ve beefed up security after the Mumbai attacks and we didn’t need lessons from the Lahore attack.”
“After Mumbai we’ve taken all steps on security. We’ll have our next meeting in May by when the full plan will be ready.”
“I’d like to assure participating countries that security will be our concern. We’ll definitely look after all aspects.”