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Media taken around four CWG venues

Special Correspondent

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

CLEANING UP THE MESS:The spruced up Siri Fort badminton stadium sports a gleaming look on Sunday.

NEW DELHI: It was a well-planned damage-control exercise to project to the media the positive side of the work done by several agencies in getting the venues ready for the Commonwealth Games.

On Sunday, four hand-picked Games venues — Talkatora Stadium (boxing), Shyama Prasad Aquatic Centre (aquatics), Thyagaraj Sports Complex (netball) and Siri Fort Complex (badminton and squash) — were thrown open to the media persons in an attempt to dispel all lurking doubts about the readiness of these venues.

The Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi was present at the Thyagaraj Stadium, clearly the best of the lot on many counts, to reinforce the oft-repeated “we are fully ready” line.

“At this venue, we can hold the event in only a couple of hours' notice. At some others, even a day's notice is enough to make it Games' ready. I can't say which stadium is better. Each one is better than the other,” claimed Kalmadi.

Just weeks ago he had pointed out that the state of the stadia, their readiness, leakages, quality etc were not his responsibility since they were designed and built by the Government and its agencies.

Oft repeated

Kalmadi did not fail in repeating “the best ever” part on Sunday. The ‘world-best' qualification has now become completely hollow, especially after several flaws and technical deficiencies were noted in a number of facilities including a ‘sinking turf' at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that was also initially expected to be part of Sunday's conducted ‘tour'.

Indeed, Thyagaraj Stadium appeared truly superior to the rest of the venues. Ironically, the best venue on view would host only netball, a discipline where an unranked India is clubbed with the 11 top-ranked nations in the world.

It should not come as a surprise if the spectators and Indian media alike, have other priorities during the Games.

Much work has been done at the Aquatic Centre and the Siri Fort since it held the test events this summer. The field of play for badminton looked impressive as did the glass court for squash, both at the Siri Fort Complex.

At the Aquatic Centre, a flight of spiral, make-shift stairs has been added, as an after-thought, for the three-metre spring-board divers.

As a result, the divers can reach the diving boards safely by avoiding the narrow staircase and the low-ceiling, built rather thoughtlessly at six feet!

However, the high-board divers will not be so lucky. In the absence of an elevator, the divers will have to use the narrow stairs, adhere to the strategically placed placard that reads, “Mind Your Head,” to reach the platforms at five metres, 7.5 metres and 10 metres.

Shockingly, the anti-skip mats for the high-board platform are yet to be put in place.

The Swimming Federation of India had to drop the high-board event during the Federation Cup last July despite a promise from the Sports Authority of India that the board would be ready.

On Sunday, the tile-less stretch leading to the platforms suggested that work had finally started to ready the high-boards. The reconstructed Aquatic Centre cost Rs. 377 crore.

Notwithstanding the water-logging outside the Talkatora Stadium and the adjoining Facilitation Centre, the boxing venue appeared good.Although the windowless cubicles, meant exclusively for boxers and their coaches, are poorly planned, and the 24-seater tabled media tribune grossly inadequate, the rest of the facilities appeared impressive.

Indeed, in the backdrop of the incessant rains in the Capital, it will be interesting to take stock of the facilities at the Games Village, where Kalmadi promised to take the media before the contingents started arriving from September 23. A ‘soft' opening of the ‘Village' is scheduled for September 16.

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