Suggesting that power struggles in India and biased reporting by the local media could be part of an ulterior move to torpedo the New Delhi Games, the chief executive of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association has said that continuing criticism is part of a concerted attempt to stop or even relocate the event.
Perry Crosswhite told an Australian news agency: "You are not going to take athletes if it is not safe or secure ... but you shouldn't just push for the Games to be cancelled. A lot of people out there, I think, are trying to do that... I am not sure what it is - whether we don't believe it will be as good as in the past, so let's continue for them to be found out for what's wrong. I don't think that's right. I don't think it's fair to the Indians. I don't think it's fair to the Commonwealth Games or to the athletes."
With Games OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi persisting in his denial mode in the face of the mounting tsunami of allegations of wrongdoing, promising that the New Delhi Games will be the best ever, Crosswhite said: "Their media is just unbelievable. They are crucifying each other. There is nothing we can do about that."
The Australian official recognised that much of the infrastructure remained unfinished just 47 days before the Games' scheduled opening but pointed out that many facilities on the inside were, in fact, complete.Top-class
Crosswhite said: "The athletes' village is one of the best villages the athletes have ever stayed at. They have quality apartments, two athletes to a bathroom we have never had that before. Sometimes people just ignore all that and see there is a bunch of rubble outside and say that this is pretty hopeless. I don't think that is necessarily neither right nor fair. There have been a lot of games - Commonwealth and Olympic - which at this point of time hadn't looked all that flash."
Saying that the decision whether to go to Delhi or not was entirely that of the athletes, Crosswhite applauded prime minister Manmohan Singh's initiative in creating a ministerial committee to oversee the Games following the torrent of allegations of corruption and poor workmanship.
"Hopefully, that will bring the diverse areas together," he said.Bedi's beamer
Meanwhile, former Test spin bowler Bishan Singh Bedi has urged foreign athletes to boycott the Games.
In manner reminiscent of MP Mani Shankar Aiyar, (who publicly hoped that the New Delhi Games would fail), Bedi, in an interview to a Sydney newspaper yesterday, injudiciously washed dirty linen in public abroad, while (correctly, it must be admitted) laying bare the "shameful corruption and incompetence" of some Games officials.
"It is an absolute embarrassment," Bedi said. "The Games are completely in the doghouse. I am yet to be convinced they will happen because there are so many things that won't be done... If I was an athlete I wouldn't bother turning up. I would stay away"Safety concerns
As reports of dozens of workers' deaths and that of at least one child in the legion of child labourers and grossly underpaid workers deaths swirl, senior Commonwealth Games officials yesterday expressed serious safety concerns for athletes and spectators following revelations that substandard building materials - including fabricated concrete - have been used to construct some of the venues.
Sports minister M S Gill has stated in parliament that the venues are "world class". But at this stage, at any rate, there are not likely to be many takers for this mind-boggling assessment.
Here in Australia, as, indeed, back home, incensed Indians are hoping that prime minister Manmohan Singh who has ordered a "thorough investigation into all complaints received about irregularities in building standards, loss of revenue or over-payments in handing out contracts" and promised that "all those found guilty should face severe and exemplary punishment" will be true to his word.
The need of the hour at this critical juncture, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, is for all good men, especially in the media, to come to the help of our country.
This is not the time to indulge in salacious finger-pointing, mud-slinging, rumour-mongering, witch-hunting and character assassination - no matter how compelling the evidence. Now is the time to do everything humanly possible to help conduct and project the Games in a positive manner that will redeem our loss of face. Punitive action
Indisputably the most stringent punitive action possible is called for against all those bar none responsible for making India a laughing stock the world over. But trial by media, politicking and scoring of brownie points by interested parties is not an option at this critical juncture.
The time for retribution should be post-October 14 when the Games end hopefully in a blaze of glory