Now African nations express doubts on sending ‘full strength’ contingents

September 22nd, 2010 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) After the turn of the major Commonwealth powers, it is the turn of the smaller nations from Africa to express their resentment at the Organizing Committee. These countries are worried that they still have not been able to visit the venues, with only eleven days left for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and have warned that “full strength” teams may not be able to come for the Games.
Out of the 53 nations in the Commonwealth, there are 19 countries from the African continent, all of whom are participating in the games from Oct 3 to 14.

Last week, the external affairs ministry had organized a presentation for the heads of missions from Commonwealth countries. But that has not been enough to satisfy the diplomats.

“The information given to us was a cut and paste job. It does not meet the realities on the ground,”

Shabeer Hussain Peerbhai, Lesotho’s high commissioner, told IANS.

The main cause for resentment is that the diplomats have still not been taken for field visits to the facilities, despite several promises.

“For months and months, we were told that there will be visits by the African heads of mission. We had as a group spoken to the ministers, the sport ministry and OC, and last week, the foreign secretary (about the site visit). But these are only promises and promises ,” said Peerbhai, who said he was speaking for the Commonwealth African envoys here in India.

“We are waiting for the foreign secretary to come back to us,” he said.

With the recent problems about the pedestrian bridge collapse and other incidents, Peerbhai said that there was question mark on whether the “full strength” team from the African countries will be sent for the Commonwealth games.

“There is a certain timeline in which teams have to arrive and adapt to the conditions. The issue is not about delay, but rather about the strength of the teams - whether they will come with full strength or pick and choose,” he said.

The Lesotho envoy said that the missions here are providing information to their sports federation on the status of the venues. “Of course, the sport federations are being told about the situation here,” he said.

Besides, there are also smaller issues like the matter of security passes for ambassadors and high commissioners to meet the incoming teams and delegation at the Airport. “We just want the same facility that we would give to Indian teams in our country.. We should be able to go at least till the lounge,” Nimisha Madavani, the Ugandan high commissioner, told IANS.

Besides Lesotha, Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda and Zambia are participating in the Games.

The major Commonwealth countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand have been vocal in their concerns about various aspects of preparations from the games, from the security aspects to the living quarters for athletes and sanitation.

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