India plans massive security for 2010 Games

NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – The 2010 Commonwealth Games  will adopt security methods similar to those used at the Beijing  Olympics, its chief said yesterday, allaying fears the attack  on the Sri Lanka 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 expressed reservations about competing in India, with  former swimming champion Dawn Fraser 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.”

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.

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 told Reuters yesterday.

“We’re tying up things, with a lot of CCTV’s etc. We’re  using very modern methods which were also used in Beijing (at  the Olympics) last year.”

MOVING AHEAD

“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.

CGF chief executive Michael Hooper said the security  planning for the games was on track and Australian experts,  Intelligent Risk, constantly reviewed security.      “The CGF is enormously aware of the need to ensure that a  safe and secure environment is provided for the Commonwealth’s  athletes at the Games,” he said in a statement.

“Security plans at all major events are subject to continual  review and are amended as appropriate to reflect the threat  assessment at a particular time.

“Everyone is committed to creating a safe and secure  environment for the Commonwealth’s athletes.”

The Commonwealth Games Council for England (CGCE) and a top  Australian sports official gave their backing to keeping the  Games in India despite growing concerns over security.

“We are tracking the situation very closely as the safety  and security of Team England’s athletes is paramount,” said a  CGCE spokeswoman, adding that a report to the Commonwealth Games  Associations by the CGF in June was the next milestone.

“We’re still looking forward to a great celebration of  Commonwealth sport in Delhi next year.”

NO RELOCATION

Perry Crosswhite, 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  told reporters yesterday.

“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.”

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  the Beijing Olympics.

Crosswhite said he could understand why some athletes may  still be hesitant to go, despite massive security arrangements.

“I don’t think anyone can guarantee anybody’s safety  anymore,” 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.”

Organising committee chairman Kalmadi said security had  become an even more important issue after the Mumbai attacks in  November which killed about 170 people.

“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.”

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