Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Delhi clean-up deadline lapses yet again

THE deadline to bring Delhi's troubled athletes' village up to standard was put back yet again yesterday amid fears that work will not be completed in time for the beginning of the Commonwealth Games.

Despite assurances that frantic repair and maintenance work would be completed by today, organisers have been forced to roll back the completion date to Friday, just two days before the opening ceremony.

It comes as Scotland's team attempt to make do with the standard of their accommodation, amid new reports highlighting a series of outstanding faults in their living quarters.

The embattled Games suffered a further publicity blow yesterday after it emerged that fewer than one out of every eight tickets that have gone on sale for the various events have been sold.

As hundreds of athletes from around the world arrived in the Indian capital yesterday, work was still going on in the athletes' village, where for the past week, concerns have been raised about hygiene and infrastructure issues.

An army of about 4,000 labourers has been working around the clock to ready the site, which was due to be finished last week.

Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, admitted that a revised deadline of this evening would not be met, but said she was "confident" the Games would begin on time.

"It will take another two (to] three days. We will be up and ready," she said.

"I went to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and everything is going on fine. Additional workers from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi have been roped in at the stadium."

Athletes from Team Scotland continued with their training sessions yesterday, as new images emerged of problems with their accommodation, including balconies with no railings, and loose electrical wiring in ceiling lights.

Photos taken of their living quarters also revealed leaking air conditioning units and unfinished kitchens, and missing railings in internal balcony areas.

Some bathrooms were also found to have broken windows, which have since been replaced.

However, the team said the focus of its attention was on the upcoming events. A spokeswoman for the group said: "Our athletes are happy and focused on the competition.

"Other countries still have some issues with their arrangements and we are working with the organisers to get it sorted out."

Caroline Brownlie, an Edinburgh-born shooter, said of her accommodation: "It's much better than I expected.

The team who came out before us have done a great job."

The last party of Scottish athletes is due to arrive in Delhi today Originally due to fly out last Thursday, the party of 41 athletes and officials from the rugby 7s, boxing and wrestling teams left Glasgow Airport yesterday afternoon.

Some 850 athletes from around the world arrived in the Indian capital yesterday, including members of the New Zealand, South African and Australian teams.

Meanwhile, tourism minister Kumari Selja admitted that of the 1.7 million tickets available for spectators at the Games, only 200,000 had been sold.

In the week before the beginning of the Melbourne Games four years ago, 1.3 million tickets had been sold.

Ms Selja accepted that the recent negative publicity had contributed to the poor take-up, and hoped more tickets would be sold once the Games began.

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