- XIX Commonwealth Games 2010
By Hishan Welmilla
Sri Lanka will field its full 90 member contingent at the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games scheduled to get underway from October 3 in Delhi, India despite concerns over the security arrangements said President, National Olympic Committee, Hemasiri Fernando.
Expressing his views to The Sunday Leader on the current concerns over security arrangements in Delhi, he said he is confident that India will able to cope up with the situation and would take every possible action to prevent any hiccups at the games as far as security is concerned.
“When we had the war going on in this country and being such a small nation we were able to handle the South Asian Games in 2006 and Commonwealth Games Conference in 2007. Then why not India, being one of the largest countries and having thousands of well trained security personnel and better infrastructure when it comes to security arrangements?” questioned the NOC Chief.
“There are some delays in preparation of venues, but I am sure the organisers are working hard day and night to meet the deadlines and host the games as scheduled,” Fernando added.
Apart from him, Wing Commander Chandana Liyanage, the Chef de Mission of the Sri Lankan contingent was also optimistic that Sri Lanka will take part in the event.
“We have no issue about sending our athletes to the games as we have been given a full assurance by our security personnel who have assessed the security aspect. Rear Admiral (Rtd) Nandana Thuduwewatta (Former Commander Northern Naval Area ) and Samantha Pathirana, First Officer of the Sri Lankan High Commission in India have attended the meetings conducted by the games’ organisers and are satisfied with the security arrangements provided,” said Wing Commander Liyanage expressing his views to The Sunday Leader.
“Our mission is to bring some glory to the motherland with some medal winning performances and I hope that the security matter is under control,” he added.
The Sri Lankan contingent is expected to take wing on September 30 and handing over sponsorships to the athletes will take place on September 29 at the National Olympic Committee.
However many participating countries are concerned about the security arrangements at the games.
Commonwealth Games Federation’s (CGF) Chief Executive, Mike Hooper expressed his views to the international media last week and said that “unprecedented security” will ensure a safe games. Despite widespread problems in the build-up to the October 3-14 Games in the Indian capital, Hooper is adamant security won’t be an issue.
The 80,000 strong Delhi police has been bolstered by 17,500 paramilitary and 3000 elite commandos in measures Hooper on Wednesday denied would be oppressive for games athletes and spectators. Some 2000 CCTV cameras had also been installed around games’ sites in a four-layered security operation which Hooper said was of paramount importance. Delays in completing venues have naturally translated to reduced time to prepare inside them, raising concerns the games could be hit by operational glitches.
CGF Chief Executive also speculated on that but did acknowledge there would undoubtedly be some problems with the Delhi Games. Of primary concern in the lead-in to the games was the delay in Indian officials certifying venues as safe — the deadline was nine months ago, the verification happened nine days ago.
Hooper has impressed on games’ organisers to focus on issues that matter for athletes. They included the athletes’ village, which officially opened last Thursday; transport; security and; smooth running of the actual sporting events.