BBC Sport – Fears increase over Commonwealth Games in Delhi

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At least 23 people were injured as a pedestrian bridge collapsed near the event’s main stadium on Tuesday

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.

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.

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No injuries were reported and Indian officials said it was “not something to be worried about”.

The incident followed the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near the main stadium which injured at least 23 people on Tuesday.

Scotland’s first party of 41 athletes and staff in the sports of boxing, rugby sevens and wrestling were set to travel to India on Thursday, 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.

He told the BBC: “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.”

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England will not travel to Delhi until ‘confident’

A lead group of athletes and officials from the Team Jersey were set to travel to Delhi on Thursday but the team will instead 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,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“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.

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TOP ATHLETES MISSING DELHI
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 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.

However, there are those in India who now fear that the opposite has happened.

Ticket sales have been disappointing and the cost of hosting the largest sporting event in the country’s history has soared, making it the most expensive Games in history, with estimates ranging from $3bn to more than $10bn, as organisers attempt to complete work which only began in 2008.

The Government has insisted that everything would come together at the last minute and believed that were it not for the heavy rains and floods which caused widespread damage in the northern part of the country this summer, the project would be 10 to 15 days ahead of schedule.

Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar said that the organising committee had been told to increase the man power being used and promised that additional financial support would be put in place.

Organising committee secretary-general Lalit Bhanot insisted the situation was under control.

“We have started work in the 32 (residential) towers and will complete it before the arrival of the athletes. In fact, we have cleaned apartments in more than 60% of the towers,” he said.

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,” she told BBC Breakfast.

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Robertson expects Games to run smoothly

“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.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.

“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.

“I’ve 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 – I’m 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.

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Australia’s discus world champion Dani Samuels said on Monday 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 on Thursday and has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Do you have tickets for any of the events? Are you an athlete due to compete at the Games? Are you in Delhi? Have you seen the athletes’ village?

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