Commonwealth Games

Aus force ceremony change

2010-10-13 07:36
Steve Moneghetti (AFP)

Sydney - Australia have won a change to Commonwealth Games closing ceremony arrangements after threatening a boycott over poor conditions at the troubled event's opening, reports said Wednesday.

Chef de mission Steve Moneghetti said the team took a tough line after athletes were made to wait in a 40-degree Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) "Tunnel of Hell" for an hour before parading through the New Delhi stadium on October 3.

Moneghetti told The Australian newspaper the country's Games association chief, Perry Crosswhite, made the boycott threat during talks with Indian officials.

"It was Perry that was threatening. He's taller than me so he's a good threatener," Moneghetti said. "We were representing Australia's view but it was a group decision.

"We were at the forefront of that process but every country was aware of the issues and supported us."

Public broadcaster ABC said Indian officials had pledged not to leave athletes waiting in depths of the stadium after talks with Australia.

"We raised some issues about Australia participating in the closing ceremony and if they weren't addressed, then that wasn't going to occur," Moneghetti was quoted as saying by the ABC.

"That's been resolved to some degree and at this point in time Australia will be participating in the closing ceremony.

"Rather than entering into, what did I call it, the tunnel of hell or the tunnel of horror, we are now going straight out," Moneghetti added.

Moneghetti, who had avoided criticising chaotic preparations for the Games, was incensed at athletes being treated "like cattle" at the opening ceremony, forcing an apology from head organiser Suresh Kalmadi.

"It was over 40 degrees without a doubt. We were treated like cattle. It was disgraceful," Moneghetti said at the time.

Australia have a large team of about 380 athletes in Delhi and are the runaway medals table leaders with 68 golds heading into the final two days before Thursday's closing ceremony.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand Olympic Committee spokesperson said the team had no intention of boycotting the closing ceremony and believed the opening ceremony had gone smoothly.

Read more on:    commonwealth games

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