Wednesday, March 17, 2010

England sending team to New Delhi

England will "categorically" be sending a team to the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi later this year despite fears over security in the Indian capital, chef de mission Craig Hunter said Tuesday.

A five-man delegation from England, led by Hunter, recently inspected the city during a nine-day trip after concerns security issues would force the country to fail to send a team to the 80-year-old event for the first time.

"England will categorically be sending a team to the Commonwealth Games," Hunter said. "There's no doubt that there are lots of athletes who see Delhi as a vital developmental stepping stone towards the 2012 Olympics in London, and they are very keen to be in the team."

Safety concerns and lax security were cited last year when England's badminton team pulled out of the world championships in Hyderabad, India.

However, England plans to take a team of 560 for the Oct. 3-14 Commonwealth Games, which is set to be the biggest multiple-sport event staged in India since the 1982 Asian Games.

"I came away from Delhi feeling greatly reassured as significant progress has been made since our previous visit last October, both in terms of the building works and in the key functional areas," said England team manager Ann Hogbin, who was also on the inspection trip.

"There is still a lot of work to be done but the organizing committee has given their commitment that everything will be ready in time, and I know that they will work tirelessly to ensure that this is the case."

Last week, Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell said he was concerned about the pace of work at venues for athletics, swimming and weightlifting but was largely satisfied with the city's preparedness.

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