Commonwealth Games: Pakistan ‘concerned’ over Games

Pakistan’s Olympic chief on Thursday admitted to ‘concerns’ about chaotic preparations for the Commonwealth Games in India, but said plans to send out a security official ahead of time were ‘normal’.

The Games, due to be held in New Delhi from October 3-14, face serious problems after several participating teams delayed their arrival in the Indian capital, checking the facilities and the arrangements for security.

The Games’ village — which is due to house 7,000 athletes — is still unfinished, with complaints of improper facilities coupled with security fears in the wake of threats from Islamist groups.

Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) president Arif Hasan admitted there were “concerns” for his contingent but sending a official out for a pre-Games check was “not out of the ordinary.”

“Naturally there are concerns, but we have full assurances from the organisers that Pakistani athletes will be taken full care of and sending an official for pre-Games checks is a normal procedure,” Hasan told AFP.

The Games will mark Pakistan’s first major participation in a sporting event in India since relations between the two nuclear rivals plummeted after Islamist militant attacks on Mumbai left 166 people dead in November 2008.

Hasan said a Pakistani security official would visit India before Pakistani athletes leave for the Indian capital.

“The interior ministry has appointed police official Ahmed Mukkaram to visit New Delhi for normal security and arrangement checks but this has nothing to do with the latest reports (of mismanagement) on the Games,” said Hasan.

Pakistan will compete in seven disciplines of the Games and their 75-member contingent will leave for New Delhi on September 29, said Hasan.

“We have briefed the athletes through lectures on ‘what to do and what not to do’ things and hope that all goes well during the Games,” said Hasan.