NEW DELHI: India said yesterday it could provide a safe and secure Commonwealth Games after a former Australian Olympic great warned the event could be the scene of a Munich-style attack.
The remarks from Dawn Fraser referring to the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, in which 11 Israelis were killed by Palestinian militants, were condemned in her own country and caused anger in India.
They came as Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell concluded a two-day visit to inspect the much-delayed venues for the beleaguered Oct 3-14 event, which is mired in construction problems and corruption allegations.
Reacting to Fraser’s comments, the top policeman in charge of security for the Games reassured that comprehensive and fool-proof arrangements would be in place once athletes begin arriving.
“The (national sports) federations are more than happy and have complimented our preparedness,” Delhi police special commissioner Neeraj Kumar said.
Australia’s Commonwealth Games chief rebuked 73-year-old Fraser, a triple Olympic 100m swimming freestyle champion, for her comments, which urged athletes to boycott the event.
Perry Crosswhite, who was in Munich in 1972 as a member of Australia’s basketball team, said Fraser was overplaying the threat.
“I don’t think Dawn’s been to Delhi recently and I don’t think she has the information we have, if she did I don’t think she would have made the comments she did,” Crosswhite told reporters.
“We believe at this stage it will be safe and it will be secure.”
Fraser, in an interview with Australia’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, warned about food and sanitation in New Delhi and implied the Indian authorities could not be trusted with security.
“I would hate to see another Munich, but with things getting worse and worse I have grave concerns. Can they prevent it?” she said.
Fennell visited most venues on Wednesday and spent yesterday holding meetings with senior officials.
Amid heavy monsoon rains, he was given a taster of the difficulties that construction workers face as they race to finish off stadiums and infrastructure in time. Roads flooded across the city, jamming routes, and many of the numerous building sites dotted across the city were quickly under water.
With just 45 days to go, some venues are still unfinished and public sentiment has turned against the US$3bil competition after a series of corruption scandals.
Congress party president Sonia Gandhi waded into the Games debate for the first time yesterday, urging ruling party colleagues to ensure the event was a success and warning of severe penalties for anyone involved in wrongdoing.
“This is the time for all of us to come together and ensure the success of the Games,” Gandhi told the Congress parliamentary party.
“The success of the Games is that of our country - not of any party or of an individual. The prestige of the nation is involved,” she said. — AFP