Some African Athletes still apprehensive about security

September 29th, 2010 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Athletes from strife-torn regions of Africa here for the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games are still apprehensive about the security situation here, despite foolproof measures assured by the Indian government.

But they have learnt to live with their apprehensions. They say they are happy with the arrangements, though fear lingers.

Some of the African nations had joined the chorus with teams like Canada, New Zealand and Scotland over perceived security problems in India for the Games.

Cameroon’s triple jumper Mamba Hugo is well aware of security problems as there is significant civil unrest in half of the ten regions of his country.

“Today security issues are not just restricted to developing countries. Security is now a global issue. So no one is safe in any part of the world,” Hugo told IANS at the Games Village.

“Earlier this year the Togolese football team was attacked by gunmen in Angola and this shows that athletes are always the soft target,” he said. He also said he was happy with the security arrangements at the Village.

“At home we are also facing serious security problems, but we are aware of all the issues. But for us India remains an unknown land and in such cases security always becomes an issue,” said Hugo, who was also at the Melbourne Games in 2006.

Like other athletes, Hugo also had reservations about coming to India.

“But luckily I had some friends who had visited Delhi a couple of months ago and they told me that it was safe to visit Delhi,” he said.

But Hugo and his fellow team mate Adam Idrissa, a 100 metre and 200 metre runner, is unhappy about the restrictions imposed on the movement of the athletes.

“Earlier this year, I took part in a competition in Lebanon, which is a very volatile country. But we were able to move around freely. This is not the case here and we feel uncomfortable about it,” he said.

Adam concurred with Hugo and said that organisers cannot be blamed for the heavy security.

“We have to accept that things have changed since the 1972 Munich Olympics. As athletes we have to live with it. But I wish there were no restrictions on the movement of the players,” he said.

Kenyan shooter Farook Qasom, who has his roots in India, also feels that security is a bit stifling.

“Competing under such situations becomes a problem for the athletes. But we can’t help it. I went to the shooting ranges (Karni Singh Shooting Range). It looks out of the world. But athletes are being outnumbered by the gun toting security men and that somehow makes life a bit difficult for us,” he said.

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