Sydney/New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Tennis Australia (TA) Saturday claimed that the security plans for October’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi were stolen and that had prompted it to forfeit the Davis Cup tie against India in Chennai last May. ‘Rubbish’ said the Delhi Police of the claim, while the CWG Organising Committee expressed surprise over the charge.
‘This is completely rubbish and nothing like this took place. Security plans are not kept in any police station and are not left lying around to be stolen,’ said a senior Delhi Police official, wishing anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
An official of the Organising Committee said: ‘It is first time that I am hearing reports of security plans of the Commonwealth Games being stolen. I don’t remember if anything like this ever took place.’
TA president Geoff Pollard said Australia’s participation in tennis, making its debut in the Commonwealth Games, would be an issue for the Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA).
ACGA president Sam Coffa said: ‘The last thing we will do is risk anyone’s safety. We will continue to monitor the situation in Delhi but not one sport has considered not going to India. But if anything shows up that causes concern, we will look at it closely.’
A confidential TA report, drawing on information from ‘other security organisations with strong ties to the Chennai region’, does not specify who stole the Commonwealth Games blueprints but a source said: ‘It forced the organisers to rejig the whole security plans for the Games.’
The report rejected an earlier security assessment by a Chennai consultant — ordered by the International Tennis Federation — as inadequate and conflicted, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Pollard said fears of escalated activity by Tamil Tigers coinciding with the month-long Indian election period were the major reasons for withdrawing from the third-round Davis Cup tie. But he confirmed the report citing, ‘the security plans for the Commonwealth Games to be held in India in 2010 had been stolen,’ as evidence of lax safety measures.
‘Al Qaeda are everywhere in the world but they are a slightly higher risk in India than in other places.
‘If the stolen plans had been the only risk, I think we would have gone to Chennai but we had the two extra risks of the election and the Tamils in the dying weeks of their last fight,’ Pollard said.
ACGA chief executive Perry Crosswhite said he had seen reports of plans missing from a police station but was uncertain they related to security. ‘I’m not aware what specifically happened but am aware of reports from India that Commonwealth Games plans had been lost or stolen,’ he said.
However, the TA submission, by Melbourne barrister Brian Collis, QC, questioned security arrangements in India.
TA then commissioned two independent security assessments, and the information on the stolen security plans for the Commonwealth Games surfaced. ‘Both assessments found that there was a credible risk of terrorist attacks within the Chennai region at or about the time the said Davis Cup Tie was to take place,’ TA said in its submission.
Australia was fined only $10,000 for forfeiting a Davis Cup tie.