September 16 - Suresh Kalmadi (pictured), the head of the organising committee for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, today again claimed that international officials need not have any fears over the Indian capital hosting a world-class event next year.
Fresh doubts about India's ability to stage the event have been raised by Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President Mike Fennell, who has written to Kalmadi seeking an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to salvage the Games.
Kalmadi, who has always insisted that New Delhi will stage the best Commonwealth Games ever, tried to allay Fennell's fears at a packed press conference today.
He said: "We are happy with all the wake-up calls we get."
Clearly rattled by heavy media criticism following his remarks, the organising committee gave a video presentation and said all Games venues, the Athletes Village as well as transport, security and hotel accommodation would be ready before time.
All the CGF's concerns would be addressed during its General Assembly in New Delhi from October 6-13, Kalmadi said, in the presence of all senior organising committee officials.
Kalmadi said: "We're all working as a team to deliver a great Games.
"We respect Fennell's views but we want to reassure people that we will stage a great Games and it will be held on time."
Fennell quoted a Games Coordination panel report warning of at least a partial collapse of the Games while criticising India's reluctance to call on foreign expertise for the event which is due to take place between October 3 and 14, 2010.
Kalmadi, also the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President, played down criticism of the organising committee, which is packed with sports federation chiefs.
Fennell said the organisers should seek foreign help as they had not staged a major event since the 1982 Asian Games, but Kalmadi said local officials had overseen the 2003 Afro-Asian Games as well as various National Games.
Experts had slammed the Afro-Asian games as waste of money after many postponements, also a feature of National Games.
The IOA secretary general Randhir Singh has urged the organisers to take the CGF criticism positively, reiterating his view the organising panel should be decentralised to make it efficient.
He said: "It is very, very important for India to stage a great Games.
"There is no question of any criticism being taken in a wrong manner or swept under the carpet.
"I felt the committees need to be decentralised and more people need to be working, but we're putting up a joint front. It is about staging a world class Games."
Organising committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot said: "We're fully ready as far as conduct of the Games is concerned, in some areas we are even ahead of schedule."
Indian Shooting Federation President Digvijay Singh had expressed concern over the slow pace of work at the shooting range but claimed he is now satisfied things are progressing in the right direction.
He said: "Yes, we're worried.
"But the pace of work seems to have improved after we raised concerns."
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