Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Hooper must shoulder some blame for the chaos that plagued the Delhi Games lead-up, his New Zealand compatriot sports minister Murray McCully said on Friday.
Hooper has pinned blame on Indian organisers for the problems that left the Games teetering on the brink of collapse last week, prompting protestors in Delhi on Thursday to accuse him of racism and burn an effigy of the administrator.
But McCully said the federation had serious questions to answer, including Hooper, the organisation’s chief executive officer who lived in India in the years preceding the Games to monitor progress.
“We should be careful about simply asserting that Indian officials carry all responsibility,” McCully told the New Zealand Herald.
“He (Hooper) has been based there to oversee these arrangements.
I certainly think there’s going to be a sharing of responsibility, but this is not the time.
Let’s leave them to do their jobs and leave the serious questions for afterwards, but they need to be asked.”
Hooper said that while the federation had pushed for deadlines to be met, it did not have the power to ensure projects were completed on time.
“At the end of the day, I’m not a construction engineer.
I’m not a builder,” he told Television New Zealand.
We’re at the hands and the mercy of, effectively, the government of India, the Delhi government, the agencies responsible for delivery of the venues.”
New Zealand was one of the most vocal critics of squalid accommodation in the athlete’s village but McCully said the criticism had been necessary to get the Games back on track, even if it was embarrassing for India.
“I’ve got no doubt there were some raw nerves touched but serious issues of safety and welfare were arising,” he said.
McCully’s comments came as New Zealand tennis player Ellen Barry said she was withdrawing from the Games because of security concerns.