Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comm Games chief arrives in Delhi

Teams considering pulling out of the Commonwealth Games may get a clearer picture on Thursday as Federation president Mike Fennell seeks a crisis meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Fennell has brought forward his arrival in the Games city to Thursday following a spate of issues threatening the Games due to start in just 10 days.

Team officials have expressed alarm at the lack of readiness and poor hygiene in sections of the athletes' village.

And the collapses of a Games pedestrian bridge and a Games venue ceiling this week have reignited concerns about building safety standards.

Guernsey and Jersey are two national teams which on Wednesday indicated they could possibly withdraw from the Games while England's Games chief said the Games were hanging on a knife edge and the Scotland team delayed its departure to give more time for their village accommodation to be made habitable.

Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive Mike Hooper labelled parts of the village as "filthy" and said the Organising Committee (OC) was working to rectify the problems.

But Fennell's arrival and request to meet directly with PM Singh shows the CGF is not satisfied with the progress.

"He's asked for a meeting with the prime minister when he gets here to go over things," Hooper told AAP.

"I think his presence here will really re-emphasise how serious the problem is with the cleanliness of the Games' village and the standard of the accommodation.

Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief executive Perry Crosswhite reaffirmed Australia's commitment to competing at the Games on Wednesday night.

Advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's website has been update to note there have been reports about construction "deficiencies" in some Games projects.

"Australians should be aware that building standards in India may not be comparable to those in Australia," it reads.

Sport Minister Mark Arbib said on Thursday that Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese had met with the nation's cabinet secretary and heads of the Games organising committee to discuss the building quality concerns which extend to the athletes' village.

"The Indian authorities are, my understanding is, directing extra resources to ensure the village is completed as quickly as possible," Arbib told ABC television.

Australian medics are on their way to India to assess the Commonwealth Games' hygiene standards as well, Arbib said.

Security concerns surrounding the Games were also heightened in the wake of the shooting of two Taiwanese nationals on a tourist bus outside a mosque in Delhi.

Record monsoon rains, an outbreak of dengue fever, allegations of corruption and late venue construction have all added to suspicion by athletes, their families and Games officials from participating countries.

Australia discus world champion Dani Samuels is one of a number of top athletes that has pulled out of the Games, citing concerns over health and safety.

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