By S. Thyagarajan
Chennai: With problems at the venues multiplying in the Commonwealth Games, set to go into history on Sunday, there is a threat of some important competitions getting devalued due to non-availability of technology.
Competitive hockey is likely to be one to suffer on this score. Despite repeated reminders, the Organising Committee has remained indifferent towards providing facilities for a video umpire, an important segment of tournament conduct.
Dennis Meredith, Competitions Director in the International Hockey Federation not long ago, and now acting as a Consultant Manager for hockey, regrets the downgrading of image of the sport at this level.
Mr. Meredith has demanded that over 300 journalists who are kept away from the stadia where the athletes are training should be granted immediate access to the stadia to witness the training and have an opportunity to speak to the players.
The consultant accuses the OC of negligence and incompetence in dealing with an important facility despite bringing up the subject as early as in 2008.
“We will not have a video umpire set up here because of the incompetency of the OC,” he writes and adds, “first identified to them by me in 2008, followed up with meetings in 2009 and 2010 and every month since July. OC responded too late for creating a proper organisation to put in place and have the requisite equipment and technical experts to facilitate it.”
He feels that the absence of a video umpire lowers this competition to a “second rate” discipline. Despite this going to the Chairman and Secretary-General of the OC nothing happened until Sunday and of course it is too late for FIH to organise at that stage,”
Meredith has also warned that he might be forced to cancel training sessions for the teams if the staff were not properly accredited. It appears the paid staff and the volunteers at the hockey venues were wrongly accredited.
Instead of facilitating entry to blue zone, the paid members have been given red zone cards. The fields are without ball pickers at this point.
Meredith concludes the e-mail addressed to all important officials dealing with this sport saying “If this matter is not resolved today (Monday), I will have no alternative but to consider cancelling all training sessions until such time as we have appropriate accreditation for both paid and volunteer staff available to service the teams at training sessions.”