New Delhi's preparations for the Commonwealth Games have received a massive vote of confidence from Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, and Dame Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic champion, who were today briefed on the progress being made.
The delegation, which also included five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are part of the large party from Britain led by Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to India designed to strengthen ties between the two countries.
Dame Kelly, the President of Commonwealth Games England (CGE), has consistently backed Delhi to be ready for the Games, which are due to open on October 3, and used this visit as another opportunity to encourage them, praising the progress the Indian capital has made.
She was particularly impressed with the Athletes Village, which Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi claimed will be better than the one at the Olympics in Beijing two years ago.
"It is really beautiful," said Dame Kelly.
"I think, the accommodation will be of top class.
"The infrastructures will certainly encourage the coming generation to take up sports.
"This is no doubt a good thing.
"But for that the facilities should be maintained properly.
"I very am encouraged by the plans I’ve heard from Mr Kalmadi and believe the Commonwealth Games in India will be a fantastic event.
"Hosting the Games in Delhi provides an opportunity to promote sport, and the benefits that it can bring, to millions of children in the country."
Coe meanwhile, who flew overnight to Delhi having yesterday led the celebrations for the two-year to go anniversary of London 2012, sympathised with the frustrations the Indian organisers are currently facing.
"Yes, this is a challenge every city organising a big event faces," he said.
"Hosting such a multi-discipline event is a very critical task.
"The problems never get solved quickly.
"I wish the Delhi Commonwealth Games Organising Committee all the best and hope to see a dazzling show."
Hunt was also impressed with what he saw and left reassured by Kalmadi that the athletes would be safe during the Games.
"We're impressed by the attention being paid to detail," he said.
"Sixty-four days is not a long time [until the Games start], which makes this attention to detail more impressive.
"I’m sure that India will deliver a successful, safe and secure Commonwealth Games in October.
"Mr Kalmadi has assured us that the country is ready to welcome athletes from around the Commonwealth and host a great festival of elite sport.
"I’ve reiterated our commitment to work closely with the Indian Government and the Organising Committee to help in any way that we can.”
But Hunt warned that he was powerless to make the top athletes attend the event, even after Kalmadi urged him "to send the top athletes to the event".
"We don't really have control over what the athletes feel to do," the Minister said.
"But we are going back with a strong message and we will encourage British athletes to come to the Commonwealth Games."
Dame Kelly claimed the event was strong enough to withstand the loss of the top names.
"The Commonwealth has helped a number of sports persons to come to the limelight,," said Dame Kelly, who won the 1500m at the 1994 and 2002 Commonwealth Games.
"If you win even a bronze medal in a Commonwealth Games, people come to know your name which helps you.
"So the Games is important in its own way and two-three pull-outs don't matter.
"Its a massive platform for the young ones."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]dethegames.biz By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year