The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Room crunch clouds hover over sports event
- High-level team from Guwahati visits capital to prepare officials for the National Games

Ranchi, April 21: VIPs alone would require 1,250 rooms in “quality hotels” during the 34th National Games to be hosted by Jharkhand, officials were told by a three-member Assamese delegation, here to share their experience of hosting the last Games.

With the 34th National Games officially scheduled for November 2007, it is clear that the state is not ready to host the event. But the question left upper-most in the mind of participants at the two-day meeting that concluded here is whether the state capital will be ready with the required infrastructure even in November 2008 or not.

As many as 26 out of the 32 events are to be hosted at Ranchi, which currently boasts of only around 350 rooms in hotels, where VIPs will be willing to be put up. The new hotels which are coming up might add 350 more rooms, conceded officials, but that would still leave a shortfall of 550 rooms.

Acknowledging the acute shortage of rooms in the state capital, the convener of the task force said a meeting would soon be organised with hoteliers and state government agencies to explore the possibility to upgrading facilities in the existing hotels.

But catering to the VIPs is the least of the organisers’ worries. The team from Assam today took the hosts by surprise when they confided that arrangements had to be made at Guwahati for 18,509 people, including 4,393 women. In addition, arrangements had to be made for 7,800 security personnel including homeguards.

The hosts were prepared for around 10,000 athletes and officials but had not apparently taken into account the media, technical officials, medical teams, caretakers, volunteers, committee members and federation officials, among others. Even Jamshedpur will require two new 200-bed hostels to accommodate participants in six events, including archery, weightlifting and equestrian. The steel city will also need a stable at Gopal Maidan for horses taking part in equestrian events.

The two-day session was a learning experience for the hosts as the Assam trio, led by Assam’s director (sports) Dhruba Hazarika and including Bhupen Choudhary and Justine Barchettia, made power-point presentations on how they went around organising the Guwahati National Games.

“For two years we forgot what a holiday means and now that the Games is over, we are feeling both relieved and relaxed. We would like that Jharkhand officials do not repeat some of the mistakes we made or issues we overlooked at Guwahati despite our best efforts,” they said.

The team stressed on the importance of taking the smallest of issues seriously. Distribution of invitation cards, for example, could turn out to be a sensitive issue, they said, and should not be outsourced. “It became embarrassing for us because sports personalities like Peter Thangaraj received their invitation very late,” pointed out Hazarika.

Issue of accreditation cards is another sensitive issue. VIPs are averse to fill up forms and complete formalities, reminded the team from Assam, and hence they issued accreditation cards to MLAs by verifying their photographs and signature from Assembly records.

Officials here were also forewarned to be ready to handle sudden arrivals of VIPs and unexpected and last-minute demands for accreditation, accommodation and vehicles.

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