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‘Punish those guilty of lapses but Games should go on’


New Delhi : Terming the hosting of the Commonwealth Games as a matter of national prestige, concerned citizens and eminent sportpersons feel that the mega event should go on and those involved in alleged financial irregularities must be “severely punished”.

“The Games must go on as it is related to the prestige of the country. But we cannot push the probe related to the monetary scams which have surfaced recently. The investigations should continue side-by-side. One thing that can be done is changing the people allegedly involved in it,” said Kuldeep Nayyar, an eminent journalist and human rights activist, told IANS.

“There is so much negativity around that I am really doubtful whether we will be able to hold the Games successfully as lot of arrangements are yet to be completed. I hope things go well,” said political analyst Inder Malhotra.

The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CGOC) is alleged to have paid AM Films, an Indian-owned firm in London, over 450,000 pounds for services during last year’s Queen’s Baton Relay inaugural without proper tendering and paperwork.

Two aides of CGOC chief Suresh Kalmadi were suspended after an enquiry found that an e-mail from the Indian High Commission in London on the basis of which the firm was hired were tampered with.

This apart, CGOC treasurer Anil Khanna quit in the wake of allegations that his son’s firm was unduly favoured in ordering the synthetic turf for the tennis stadium for the Games.

Audit watchdog Comptroller and Auditor General of India has also commented adversely on the cost overruns for the stadia being built or refurbished for the Oct 3-14 Games.

Some people said that the prime concern now is to see that the Games are conducted in a manner befitting the country’s status in the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations. If there is any truth in the charges, the guilty can always be brought to book once the Games are over.

“The recent negative media coverage of Delhi Commonwealth Games has resulted in absolute negativity among people and the whole world. I think all the culprits should be severely punished but all should be done after our country’s greatest ever sporting event is over,” said Subrata Roy of Sahara India Pariwar.

Sportspersons who are often at the receiving end of policies of ill-managed sports bodies dominated by politicians, strongly believe that allegations of improprieties are damaging the country’s reputation too.

“These issues are causing a lot of distractions and I feel the guilty should be punished. The charges of financial irregularities are serious as it was public money after all,” said Akhil Kumar, Commonwealth Games boxing champion.

“These cases spoil the reputation of the country and those who are doing it should not be allowed to go scot free. With this controversy the country is losing focus from the Games,” he said.

Talking about the alleged financial irregularities, wrestler Sushil Kumar, who won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, said: “These issues have tainted the name of the country.”

“India is hosting such a tournament after a long time and this was the last thing the country could have afforded and that too with less than two months left for the Games,” he said.