Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Perry Crosswhite joins the show from New Delh -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Perry Crosswhite joins the show from New Delhi

Broadcast: 30/09/2010

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Australia's Commonwealth Games Chief, Perry Crosswhite, brings us up to date with the latest on the
Commonwealth Games just days away from its opening.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: After weeks of scathing criticism and crises, where some teams threatened
to withdraw because of unacceptable conditions, the Commonwealth Games will open in New Delhi on
Sunday. Even in the shadow of the Opening Ceremony, one Indian newspaper has reported that nearly
half of the proposed army of 22,000 volunteers have quit, but at least all 71 competing member
countries are definitely participating and conditions in the Athletes' Village have improved after
the intervention of the Indian Government. Athletes and officials worried about the perceived
terrorist threat have also been somewhat mollified by a dramatic boost to the security effort
around the village and Games' venues, including 100,000 heavily-armed police.

Australia's Commonwealth Games chief Perry Crosswhite remains cautiously optimistic about these
troubled Games, and I crossed to him in New Delhi late this afternoon.

Perry Crosswhite, your response to conditions for these Games has been positive from the outset,
unlike some other officials. How confident are you now that these Games are going to be a success?

PERRY CROSSWHITE, AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH GAMES ASSOCIATION: I'm confident they'll be a success in
that the athletes will compete in the Games as they should and take part and will have a good
experience. At the end of the day, it's the athletes that have to decide probably whether a Games
are a success or not. The rest of us are here because of that and we're trying to do everything
possible to make that happen. And our jobs haven't been easy, but it's not - it's certainly - it's
no solution to say, look, that things are too hard and let's all leave and go away.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have you seen significant improvements in the state of the village since you
arrived?

PERRY CROSSWHITE: I have. I've seen significant improvement as far as the cleanliness, as far as
organisation, as far as safety procedures. Probably a lot of the particular things that the
organising committee are responsible for. We still are having problems with the - some of the basic
services of power and plumbing which tend to break down at different times, but the thing that's
changed is they actually have people right on the spot to fix them when that happens.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You of course have been on the co-ordination commission for these Games. Did you see
the problems coming some time ago, or have they surprised even you?

PERRY CROSSWHITE: No, the co-ordination commission was well aware that the organising committee was
quite a bit behind where they were supposed to be and raised on a continuous basis. Actually I was
added to the co-ordination commission last December and then we had two meetings, one in December
and one in April, and at both meetings, from a Commonwealth Games Association perspective, we were
very critical and trying to work with the organising committee to ensure that they would catch up.
But certainly that didn't happen. And of course now they're trying to catch up as the Games are
just about to start.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Australia's Olympics boss John Coates isn't the only critic to observe that New
Delhi should never have been chosen for these Games. How do you reflect on that in hindsight?

PERRY CROSSWHITE: Well, it's always easy in hindsight. I mean, India's the largest nation in the
Commonwealth. It's the most populous nation, it's a nation that's a very, very strong democracy and
a leader. I think that in the Commonwealth Games movement, I think everybody would believe that the
- that India could host the Games. And certainly the co-ordination commission and the CGF itself,
that's the way they voted. And they had bid previously and hadn't had an opportunity to do so, so
I'm sure in 2003 they thought this was the time.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Veterans of previous Commonwealth and Olympic Games can't recall one where security
has been anywhere near as tight as this one, even Athens and Beijing. That might be reassuring for
some athletes, but sad too, don't you think, that participants can't really feel free to be
tourists in Delhi as well as competitors, that some of the special atmosphere of an event like this
disappears when you're constantly confronted by security bristling with guns?

PERRY CROSSWHITE: Well, the security is very tight and I guess, you know, what we tell the athletes
when they arrive and it's there, as you mentioned, for their purpose. It's - India's in an a area
of the world where there's a lot of unrest. And so therefore the Indians themselves every day live
with all of this - these type of threats. And I think that they wanted to make sure that when the
athletes arrived they would feel some security in where they're living and where they're going to
compete and all that sort of thing. But, look, I don't disagree with you that it is a difficult -
going to be difficult for spectators and observers alike to get in and out of venues and transport
because things are tight. And I guess that's necessary in the current situation. Certainly the
experts are saying that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have Australian team members been briefed on how to react if something bad does
happen?

PERRY CROSSWHITE: Yes, they have. We have what we call a meet-and-greet session with every athlete
that arrives, generally by their sport and by their session. We talk about - we have a security
adviser attached to the team. He goes over the processes for that. We have the Federal Police along
with some of the police from some other nations and they're located at venues and on transport. And
so there is a whole procedure, Kerry, and this is probably the first time we've ever had to do it,
but it has to be done.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So after all the fuss, how would you describe the morale of the Australian team
right now?

PERRY CROSSWHITE: Well, you know, Kerry, it's remarkable. I think, as I say, we underestimate our
athletes. They're all here, they're all keen, they're all going to the dining room, they're all
going out to the training sessions, they're getting on those security buses which sometimes take a
while. They just relax. And I look at them and say, "You guys know what you're here for," and they
all do. So I think, as I say, I think we have tremendous athletes in our country and we should all
respect them really strongly. The morale is good. Some of the rest of us have been here a long time
working about 20 hours, well, we're probably looking like zombies, but we're doing a reasonable job
too.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Perry Crosswhite, good luck and thanks very much for talking with us.

PERRY CROSSWHITE: Thanks, Kerry. Happy to.