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Delhi bug, swine flu and filthy venues repelling CWGs participants
| Creaky stadiums, leaky pools and allegations of dodgy deals come complaints from visiting teams | Yamuna River clogged with monsoon rains and areas nearby are a breeding ground for mosquitoes | Accommodation ‘unfit for human habitation’ | After overbridge, Nehru Stadium ceiling falls | Funny Minister blames ISI for overbridge collapse

Ahmad Mahmooduz Zaman

After creaky stadiums, leaky pools and allegations of dodgy deals come complaints from visiting teams that the athletes’ village on the outskirts of the capital is filthy and “unfit for human habitation”. Apparently more than half of the 34 residential towers at the village are still far from complete; and a quarter of the rooms for one of the visiting teams are flooded.

Scotland, Wales and England have cast doubt on their participation at next month’s Commonwealth Games amid fears of poor facilities and safety in Delhi. Team Scotland and Jersey have delayed their departure to India because of problems with the athletes’ village. What has happened to the Games village comes as no surprise to most Indians. Delhi has a reputation for badly constructed, leaky buildings as developers collude with authorities to cut corners and compromise on quality. It is also possibly India’s most corrupt city. The current row comes as no surprise when you consider the fact that work on building the stadiums and most other infrastructure has gone down to the wire and become a shoddy race against time. All this while smug authorities told the people that all was well, and things would be fine. “It’s the Indian way of doing things, which the West doesn’t understand,” was a common refrain. Clearly, the “Indian way” hasn’t worked - and the Games are turning out to be India’s bonfire of vanities.

Wales have given organisers a Wednesday night deadline to confirm all venues are fit for purpose, while England say the situation is on a “knife-edge”.
The Games run from 3-14 October and athletes arrive in India this week. The build-up has been beset by problems. Several countries have complained about the accommodation, with some claiming it is “unfit for human habitation”, while safety fears were heightened after a section of false ceiling near the weightlifting area of the main stadium fell in on Wednesday.

something to be worried about”. The incident followed the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near the main stadium which injured at least 23 people. Scotland’s first party of 41 athletes and staff in the sports of boxing, rugby sevens and wrestling were set to travel to India today, but the Scots will now decide on a day-by-day basis when to fly out.

Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Michael Cavanagh said Scotland remained “hugely committed” to the Games but believed urgent action was required. The village is right now not fit to receive 6,500 athletes, which is due to happen within the next seven days. Part of the village is in a very poor condition and a very poor state of maintenance. There have been dogs roaming around the village, the apartments are filthy and there are piles of rubble lying around.

Cannot play media.You do not have the correct version of the flash player. A lead group of athletes and officials from the Team Jersey were set to travel to Delhi today but the team will now travel as one group on Tuesday, 28 September.

Welsh officials want to hear from the Delhi Organising Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation by 1700 BST and warned that the nation’s team would not travel to India if their concerns were not addressed. Team Wales said they would make a decision based on the feedback they received from Delhi on Wednesday, adding: “We have to take a step back and examine how safe it is to bring athletes into this environment.”

England were continuing to monitor the situation, with chairman Sir Andrew Foster admitting organisers faced “a critical 24 to 48 hours”. “Our staff have been round all 17 sports venues and they are in good order, so the key remaining feature which there’s a problem with is the village. The other problems have been resolved. It’s a situation that hangs on a knife-edge.

Northern Ireland’s first representatives plan to depart for the Games, as scheduled, on Monday, with officials Stewart Tosh and Terry Crothers, who are expected to arrive in Delhi on Wednesday, set to report back after seeing the conditions for themselves. Usain Bolt (JAM) - 100m & 200m world record holder Paula Radcliffe (ENG) - marathon world record holder Jessica Ennis (ENG) - world heptathlon champion

Chris Hoy (SCO) - multiple Olympic cycling champion Beth Tweddle (ENG) - World champion gymnast Scotland said the accommodation they were allocated on arrival was unfinished but claimed that they encountered problems even after being moved to a completed section. Cavanagh added: “By delaying the arrival of our athletes by a few days, we hope to give the Delhi 2010 organising committee the necessary time to address the concerns that have been raised by both the Commonwealth Games Federation and the countries which arrived early.”

Scotland and Jersey’s announcements are the latest in a long line of setbacks for a Games which was supposed to showcase India as an emerging power in the international community. The cost of hosting the Games has soared, with estimates ranging from $3bn to more than $10bn, as organisers attempted to complete work which only began in 2008.

A host of the world’s leading athletes have pulled out of the event, with English athletes Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey the most recent withdrawals. World triple jump champion Idowu said he had concerns over security preparations for the Games, whereas Ohuruogu and Dobriskey both had injury worries.

English hurdler Natasha Danvers, who will not be competing because of injury, admitted a number of athletes were worried about competing in Delhi. “I think a lot of the athletes already out in the holding camp are afraid, and it’s a legitimate feeling.” Cannot play media.You do not have the correct version of the flash player. Download the correct version.

At this point you want to just be thinking about your performance, you don’t want to be worrying if you’re going to get sick or injured. I spoke to some colleagues this morning and they are worried about bombs, they are worried about being shot - it’s just so bizarre to have to think about this at this point.” European 110m hurdles champion Andy Turner gave the event a boost by saying he was committed to going to Delhi.

“Obviously I’ve had my concerns - the things in the press about the village and the bridge collapsing - but for me it’s a chance to further my athletics career so I’m going to take every opportunity I get. we have literally just heard what everybody else has heard. I’m confident that by the time I get out there - I don’t even get to Delhi until 4 October - and confident by that time everything’s going to be absolutely fine.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is the most high profile withdrawal, while Kenya’s David Rudisha, who broke the 800m world record twice in August, is also not competing. Australia’s discus world champion Dani Samuels said she would not be travelling to Delhi, citing security and health concerns, and Australia sports minister Mark Arbib warned more athletes could follow Samuels’s lead. And New Zealand’s prime minister said he would support any of his country’s athletes who did not attend.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell is due to arrive in New Delhi today and has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This is the same village that Delhi organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi had praised recently as better than the one at the Beijing Olympics.... Except, critics say, the toilets in Delhi are dirty and the rooms waterlogged and stacked with debris, among other problems.

Critics say the Delhi Games village - luxury apartment homes which are to be sold for upwards of 20 million rupees each - represents all that is wrong with India. Dehli has ignored protests that the site is on a flood plain in a zone more prone to earthquakes than other parts of the capital, environmentalists say. To make matters worse the Yamuna river is clogged with monsoon rains and areas nearby are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. But the authorities don’t appear to care. As I write this comes the news that a bridge near the showpiece Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium - where the inaugural and closing ceremonies will be held - has collapsed, critically injuring a number of workers. This, after scores of workers have already died during the construction. What next? How much worse can it get?

Meanwhile, a portion of a false ceiling at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue of the Commonwealth Games, collapsed here on Wednesday, a day after a foot over bridge near the stadium came crashing down. No one was injured. Cabinet secretary K.M. Chandreshekhar told television channels that the collapse was not an issue to be "worried about".

"The cables which were to be set up for the data network were placed on the false ceiling and due to the weight of the cables the ceiling fell off. It's a minor thing and it will be corrected. It's not a matter to be worried about," Chandreshekhar told CNN-IBN channel. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the agency which renovated the stadium, said tiles came down as maintenance work was being carried out. The weightlifting event is scheduled to be held at the newly built hall where the ceiling fell.

"Maintenance work was being carried in the false ceiling and two tiles have fallen. It is just a matter of time we will get it right. We have to take the scaffold to a certain height and tighten it. Nobody was injured," Rajendra Kala of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), told reporters.

Sahdev Yadav, secretary general of the Indian Weightlifting Federation, added: "The false sealing has not fallen down. We were facing some problems in the AC duct in the false ceiling and that's the reason we were carrying out the repair work in the roof."

The incident comes just a day after an under-construction foot overbridge collapsed near the stadium, injuring 27 labourers. Though there were no injuries on Tuesday, the mishap adds to the huge embarrassment the Games Organising Committee has been facing in the run up to the Games, only 11 days away. Several foreign contingents have complained about the state of the Games village, with some labelling conditions as "filthy and unlivable". Some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 countries and territories are expected to attend the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games, India's biggest sporting event after the 1982 Asian Games

 
 
 
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