Friday, September 24, 2010

'Swift action' still needed over athletes' village

While Scotland gave the green light yesterday for their athletes to travel out to the Commonwealth Games, English officials in Delhi warned that "more and swift action" was required to make the athletes' village fit for habitation.

Having delayed the departure of their first wave of competitors, who had been scheduled to fly from Glasgow on Thursday, Team Scotland announced yesterday that they would start sending athletes as of today. "There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead in Delhi," Michael Cavendish, the chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said, "but we are confident that these can be effectively managed by our team management, who have done a fantastic job over the last week to ensure we could get to this position."

Scottish officials had expressed severe concerns about the state of the athletes' village earlier in the week and their English counterparts, despite having given the go-ahead to their athletes on Thursday, remained far from satisfied with conditions yesterday. The first group of English athletes arrived in Delhi in the morning and were taken to hotels in the city. The lawn bowlers will be accommodated there, as had already been planned, but the hockey team are expected to move into the village when it is deemed fit for use.

Craig Hunter, England's chef de mission, said: "In the village the level of activity continues to pick up and we are looking at the detail, making sure that fire and safety equipment and procedures are in place and that the apartments are clean and safe. Our next wave of athletes arrives on Sunday and a lot still needs to happen before then. So more and swift action is required".

Hockey players James Tindall and Ben Middleton made an early visit to the village. Middleton said: "The flats are spacious – which is good for a major Games – but there are bits and pieces to be done to bring them up to standard. A couple of days will make a difference."

Mike Fennell, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, said he had been heartened by the "considerable improvements'' made to the facilities in the athletes' village. New Zealand officials have confirmed their team will travel and Australia are preparing to receive their athletes in the village.

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