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Commonwealth Games: More Australian athletes 'may quit'

Prince Myshkin

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Further doubts have been cast over next month's Delhi Commonwealth Games after two athletes withdrew and others postponed travelling to the event.


More than 40 officials and athletes from the Scottish team have delayed their flight to Delhi.


An Australian discus champion and an English triple jumper cancelled on Tuesday, citing security concerns.


New Zealand's PM said he would support any of his country's athletes who did not attend.


It comes after a day after Commonwealth Games Federation officials severely criticised the state of the athletes' accommodation in Delhi.


Also on Tuesday, a foot bridge under construction near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main Games venue, collapsed, injuring 27 workers, five seriously.


It was the latest setback to an event that has been plagued by construction delays, allegations of corruption and a dengue fever outbreak in the Indian capital.


Australia's Sports Minister Mark Arbib said more Australian athletes might follow world discus champion Dani Samuels, who said she would not attend because of health and safety concerns.


Security fears were heightened at the weekend when two tourists were wounded by gunmen on a motorcycle near the Jama Masjid mosque in the capital.


Meanwhile, a decision about the England team's participation in the Games will be made in the next 48 hours.


On Tuesday, English world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu withdrew from the event, also citing security concerns.


Two other members of the England team - Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and 1,500m runner Lisa Dobriskey - pulled out, blaming injury worries.


The head of England's Commonwealth Games team, Craig Hunter, has warned that "time is beginning to run out" for organisers.


New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told reporters on Wednesday that any cancellation of the Games could be disastrous for the future of the event and for India's world standing.


But he added: "If an individual athlete decides they don't want to go for their own reasons, I would support them because I think, in the end, they have to make their own decision on whether they feel comfortable or not with the risks involved."


The head of New Zealand's Commonwealth Games team, Dave Currie, earlier warned that if the arrivals of the athletes had to be pushed back, it could ultimately result in the competition being cancelled.


Michael Fennell, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said on Tuesday that advance teams had been shocked by what they had seen at the athletes' village, where toilets were filthy and flats unfinished.


The Indian government has convened a high-level meeting to review the situation.


Delhi Lt-Governor Tejinder Khanna has reportedly been told by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to personally oversee the work and submit a status report everyday.


The secretary general of the organising committee, Lalit Bhanot, earlier said the authorities understood the concerns shown by some member countries and the Commonwealth Games Federation.


But he suggested that the complaints could be due to "cultural differences".


"Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards, we have different standards," he said.


Officials from the Ministry of Sports promised last year that the village would be ready in March 2010. Built alongside the Yamuna River in the east of Delhi, it consists of a series of blocks of flats to house about 7,000 athletes and their families, a 2,300-seat cafeteria, and practice areas.

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Commonwealth Games facing ANOTHER crisis as ceiling caves in at main stadium


as top athletes pull out



By Richard Shears

Last updated at 1:30 PM on 22nd September 2010





  • England boss admits competition is 'on a knife-edge'
  • Scotland team confirms it has delayed its departure to Delhi
  • Countries worried by 'unsafe and unfit for human habitation'
  • Australian film crew enter stadium with bomb kit undetected
  • Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey pull out

A ceiling has caved in at the main Commonwealth Games stadium in Delhi today, heaping further embarrassment on India's preparations for the event.

The ceiling collapse comes less than 24 hours after a footbridge linking the stadium to a car park collapsed yesterday, injuring 26 labourers struggling to complete the project on time.

The latest failure piles more pressure on the Games Organising Committee before the opening ceremony - due to take place at the same stadium - on October 3 and comes after three of England’s biggest athletics stars pulled out of the competition.

Olympic 400m gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu, world champion triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Commonwealth 1,500m champion Lisa Dobriskey have said they will not go to Delhi.

article-1314197-0B4C917A000005DC-504_634x386.jpg Repairs: Workers without safety harnesses climb down the roof of the weightlifting venue for the Commonwealth Games at Jawarharlal Stadium today




article-1314197-0B4CC77A000005DC-379_634x360.jpg Keeping watch: Security guards stand guard outside the partially collapsed roof of the weightlifting area at the Jawaharlal Stadium today




article-1314197-0B4CD328000005DC-485_634x362.jpg Repairs: The weightlifting arena is part of the main Jawaharlal Stadium



Preparations for the Games have been beset with problems, including security fears, athlete withdrawals and today stern criticism of the facilities in the athletes' village.

Teams have described accommodation in the village as unfit for human habitation and Commonwealth Games England chairman Sir Andrew Foster admitted problems with the athletes' village have left the competition 'on a knife-edge' and facing 'a critical 24 to 48 hours'.

Leading politicians played down the ceiling collapse, with Cabinet Secretary KM Chandreshekhar insisting it was a 'minor' issue.

'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,' he said.


article-1313907-0B48B501000005DC-588_634x333.jpg Crisis: Indian security personnel work at the site of a collapsed pedestrian bridge outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi today



article-1313907-0B48AB5C000005DC-908_634x592.jpg Chaos: The 100m pedestrian bridge fell apart less than a fortnight before the Games




article-1313907-0B48BBC2000005DC-705_634x437.jpg Injuries: Five labourers were rushed to hospital with critical injuries


Time is fast running out for the Delhi authorities to prevent an embarrasing shambles.

Scotland, New Zealand and Canada had already voiced concerns about the standard of the accommodation and today England joined the chorus of criticism.

The Scotland team today confirmed it was delaying its departure to Delhi.

An England spokesman expressed 'grave concerns' over the accommodation for the total of 6,500 athletes.

Some parts of the Village were described as 'unsafe and unfit for human habitation' and Games federation chief executive Mike Hooper labelled the conditions 'filthy'.

It is not clear why world triple jump champion Idowu has withdrawn, but Ohuruogu and Dobriskey both have injury concerns








Triple blow: Middle-distance runners Lisa Dobriskey, Chrstine Ohurugu and triple jumper Phillips Idowu have all given varying reasons for pulling out of the Delhi Games

They were all due to defend their Commonwealth titles in Delhi.




Australian champion discus thrower Dani Samuels, who won the gold medal in the World Championships last year, was the first athlete to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games because of her concerns over her safety and health in Delhi.

Miss Samuels, 32, told Australian team officials today that she was worried about her security after an attack on two tourists - and she was also concerned about her health because of a recent outbreak of dengue fever.


Meanwhile, an Australian television news crew were able to carry a case for an explosives detonation kit into the stadium without being stopped.

The case could have triggered up to 200 explosions if it had been fitted with a detonator.

Footage broadcast late on Monday showed reporter Mike Duffy easily walking into the cordoned off area with the oversized, wheeled suitcase when a gate was opened to allow a police convoy through.

article-1313907-0B48CF0E000005DC-315_634x458.jpg Pulled out: Australian discus world champion Dani Samuels will not compete at the Games over security fears


'Patrol cars drive in, I slip through,' he says in a voiceover. 'While they’re distracted by their own cars, I breeze in with an oversized suitcase.

'There are dozens of police. But nobody asks me what it’s for. And this is no ordinary piece of luggage.

'It’s a portable, purpose-built casing for a remote detonation kit. The unit is capable of setting off 200 explosions.'

Duffy had earlier secretly filmed the purchase of the case from the boot of a car in a restaurant car park north of New Delhi.


article-1313907-0B4A4725000005DC-722_634x400.jpg Recovering: The labourers injured in the Jawaharlal Stadium footbridge collapse are treated for their injuries at the spartan-looking Safdarjung Hospita


'If I need to blow up this car, all I need further is a detonator and explosive,' the vendor tells Duffy.

The news crew said they were easily able to obtain both items, including ammonium nitrate and explosives used for mining, within a day’s drive of New Delhi.

Organisers of the Games have promised the event will be safe, but Australia issued another warning about safety on Monday, saying there was a 'high risk' of an attack in New Delhi.

The Commonwealth Games Federation has asked the Indian government to take urgent steps to improve conditions at the athletes' village.

article-1313907-0B48BDD8000005DC-994_634x328.jpg Concern: Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said: 'The Commonwealth Games village is seriously compromised'


Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell has admitted that the village is 'seriously compromised' and has written to the Indian Cabinet Secretary expressing his 'great concern'.

He said: 'The village is the cornerstone of any Games and the athletes deserve the best possible environment to prepare for their competition.

'Many nations that have already sent their advanced parties to set up within the village have made it abundantly clear that, as of the afternoon of September 20, the Commonwealth Games village is seriously compromised.'

Commonwealth Games England released a statement earlier today which read: 'There is a lot still to be done in the Village and this needs to be done with some urgency so that it is ready for the arrival of our first athletes on Friday.'


article-1313862-0B47836B000005DC-153_634x309.jpg Clean-up time: The village is fumigated in the race to have it ready


And England Commonwealth Games boss Craig Hunter said: 'There is mud everywhere, where we are there is a lot of remedial work to be done but the days of monsoon rain have delayed the work and there are new challenges that have been revealed around the village.

'There is unsafe electrical equipment in some rooms, in some areas there are plumbing issues, things like doors not fitting properly and one of the walls adjacent to our accommodation which has washing machines has not been plumbed in. On the top floor there is no secure barrier and it needs to be boxed in to become safe.

'Since our first inspection, monsoon weather has highlighted a number of different issues which need to be addressed including plumbing, electrical and other operational details.'

Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, expressed his concerns, too, and told the BBC: 'Very soon, 6,500 people from 61 countries will be coming and we have real concerns about whether they can be accommodated.

article-1313907-0B493F6C000005DC-307_634x379.jpg Bog standard: The toilet facilities in the Delhi athletes' village which was criticised by Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland


article-1313907-0B493F94000005DC-610_634x401.jpg No luxury: A bedroom in the village which will prove a far cry from the facilities enjoyed by British athletes at the Beijing Olympics



'The problem is that there are other aspects, not just the accommodation, there are parts of the Athletes' Village that aren't functioning.

'We've been told there are piles of rubble lying around the village. They have a very short space of time so we hope the Indian government will put real pressure on the organisers.

'The Delhi organising committee are running out of time and they need to do it very, very quickly.'

Cavanagh said there were a series of meetings happening in Delhi today that there was a possible 'Plan B' but would not give details.


article-1313862-0B1B4057000005DC-638_634x393.jpg Nearly there: A sound barrier goes up just outside the Commonwealth Games village - but the methods used would probably not get past UK health and safety officers


New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie confirmed the facilities were below standard.

He told Newstalk ZB: 'The way things are looking, it's not up to scratch. The rea

lity is that if the village is not ready and athletes can't come, the implications are that it's not going to happen. It is unacceptable from the organising committee that they have put athletes through this.'

Fennell said that the high security measures at the Games mean work which ought to have been in place is taking longer to complete.

He added: 'Since the nations have been arriving at the village they have all commented favourably on the appearance of the international zone and the main dining area.

'However, the condition of the residential zone has shocked the majority of CGAs that are in Delhi and, despite their attempts to work with the organising committee in a constructive manner since arriving on September 15, significant operational matters remain un-addressed.

'The problems are arising because deadlines for the completion of the village have been consistently pushed out. Now, the high security around the site, while vital, is slowing progress and complicating solutions.'


Wales chef de mission Chris Jenkins said impressive progress has been made with his team's accommodation but there are still major concerns for other teams.

article-1313862-0B4870F7000005DC-250_634x399.jpg Waiting game: A security guard at the entrance to the Commonwealth Games village



Jenkins said: 'We have been working closely with the Delhi organising committee to resolve the issues we faced on first inspection of our tower and while there has been impressive progress made, we also still feel there are a number of operational issues that need to be addressed.

'We are in a good position because we came out early to set up. Therefore, we have had time to improve the standard of our building. Our major concern is for other countries yet to arrive.

'Many of these will arrive with athletes and face a village that is compromised. Wales and the other countries here call on the Delhi Organising Committee and the Indian Government to increase their efforts to rectify these problems.'

Another security alarm was raised on Sunday when two Taiwanese tourists were injured in a shooting incident near the Jama Masjid mosque. The busload of Taiwanese tourists were fired at by a person riding pillion on a motorcycle.

An Islamist group called the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1314197/Commonwealth-Games-2010-Crisis-deepens-ceiling-caves-main-stadium.html#ixzz10H2D8Nzf

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