Delhi 2010 calls for sacking of chief executive of CGF
By Duncan Mackay
October 15 - A major row that threatens to further undermine the build-up for next year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi has broken out after Suresh Kalmadi, the head of the local Organising Committee, today called for the dismissal of Mike Hooper (pictured second right), the top official monitoring the preparations.
Kalmadi claimed that Hooper, the chief executive of the London-based Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), has obstructed progress.
He said: "Mike Hooper has not been beneficial to us.
"He was of no use and has been an impediment to the functioning despite spending two years here.
"So we have asked the CGF to replace him immediately and in his place send somebody who can be useful to us."
Hooper said he was shocked by Kalmadi’s comments.
The New Zealander said: "This seems to be a traditional position instead of addressing the real issues.
"My role has been very positive for building things forward.
"I am very disappointed to hear the comments by Kalmadi today.
"It's his view.
"I view my role here has been independent in the last two years.
"It seems I was in position of seriously addressing the real issues.
"Launching a personal attack was most unfortunate.
"To me it's unfortunate and totally inappropriate,"
Mike Fennell, the President of the CGF, said this week an independent panel will be set up to monitor progress in constructing venues and other infrastructure, adding that Indian authorities must take corrective measures to make up for the delays for the Games, which start on October 3, 2010, and last until October 14.
Indian officials have pledged that all facilities will be completed on time, and Kalmadi today criticised the CGF's decision to set up the monitoring panel.
He said: "We don’t want a multiplicity of agencies.
"If they want they can add some technical experts to the Coordination Commission which is already monitoring the work."
Indian authorities are racing to build or upgrade sports venues and a Village for athletes and officials.
Delhi is also constructing a new airport, expanding its metro rail system and improving the historic commercial heart of the city, Connaught Place, before competitors and spectators arrive.
Randhir Singh (pictured with Kalmadi, left), the Secretary General of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), also expressed astonishment over CGF's decision to form a technical panel.
He said: "I am a little surprised, the CGF should have more faith in the Coordination Commission because in every big event starting from Olympics to Asian Games, it is the Coordination Commission that comes and checks and asks for reports from the organising committee."
Kalmadi denied that New Delhi officials were now on a collision course with the CGF.
He said: "Question of collision doesn't arise.
"We welcome their suggestion.
"We had great relations with Fennell and we have consistently informed him about Hooper's role.
"We have simply asked for another person in his place because we didn't have much positive impact from him."
Fennell also advised Indian officials to hire foreign experts if necessary.
Kalmadi said: "The IOA welcomes foreign hires in critical areas like technology, catering, overlays, project management and in some sports like lawn bowling, rugby sevens and netball as it does not have required expertise.
"But there is strong resentment [about hiring foreign experts] in sports like shooting, badminton because we are capable enough in these areas.
"We already showed our expertise by hosting the badminton World Championship this year."
Nearly 50 foreign experts have been hired already, Kalmadi said.
He said: "We are making some addition and subtraction in the oraganising committee and things will be okay by December.
"We are working as a team and I assure you that we will give the best Commonwealth Games ever."
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October 2009: Fennell is happy with progress in New Delhi, Indian officials claim
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