Hooper 'feels safe' in Delhi despite threats

10:49 am on 6 October 2010

The New Zealand Commonwealth Games chief executive says he's not concerned for his safety, despite the burning of his effigy on the streets and death threats.

Michael Hooper has told a news conference in the Indian capital that claims he had blamed Delhi for the problems leading up to the Games are untrue.

The allegations led to the burning of his effigy on the streets, and while Mr Hooper says the claims upset him, he still feels safe in Delhi.

Mr Hooper has also denied he has been living a lavish lifestyle since moving to Dehli five years ago to oversee Games preparations, saying the claims being made were "simply not true".

Games Federation head Mike Fennell, questioned at the often testy news conference about issues such as security, transport and accreditation, said operational issues were being sorted out.

Responding to questions about a lack of spectators, he was impatient with suggestions that people were staying away from the Games because of the problems in recent weeks.

The lead-up to the competition was plagued by construction delays, the collapse of a footbridge, problems with the state of the athletes' accommodation, and concerns about security after an attack on a tourist bus.

Chief organiser Suresh Kalmadi brushed aside problems with transport, a lack of spectators, food and security delays on Tuesday, saying everything would be resolved within 24 hours.

Mr Kalmadi admitted some venues had been without ticket booths for the first day of of competition but denied the scandal-hit preparations for the event had contributed to low attendances.

Organisers had sold 600,000 of the 1.5 million available tickets for the 12 days of the Games, he said, and organisers were considering busing in schoolchildren to fill empty seats.