Saturday, October 2, 2010

Boycott threatens Delhi Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

THREE countries are threatening to boycott the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony because they claim organisers have not told them enough about the event.

In a move that would overshadow Delhi's three-hour extravaganza and shatter organisers' hopes the show could save its Games, Scotland, New Zealand and the Isle of Man have refused to guarantee they will march tonight.

A fourth country, Commonwealth Games giant Canada, confirmed it had raised concerns with organisers and was still seeking guarantees for the welfare of its athletes planning to take part.

The countries have sought assurances about the welfare of their athletes and details of their movements to and from the ceremony.

They have also asked Indian officials for the latest security intelligence but have received no reply.

But with little or no feedback from organisers, they are threatening to pull out.

Despite the row, Australia has no plans to join the boycott.

Chef de Mission Steve Moneghetti said it was a "privilege and a highlight of an athlete's career" to take part in the opening ceremony.

A report in London's Daily Telegraph said the threat to stage a last-minute boycott of the three hour extravaganza came from Scotland, Isle of Man, Canada and New Zealand during this morning's chef de mission meeting.

In a heated meeting top officials from those countries demanded more explicit details about the ceremony, in particular the time demands on the athletes.

Scottish representatives said ''it was a wild rumour that we won't take part at this point'' but sources have confirmed they have refused to confirm to Indian officials they will march.

It is understood Scotland's concerns relate to "logistical" issues and confusion surrounding how long its athletes will have to stay out in Delhi's sapping heat to attend the event.

Initially the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee told team officials the athletes could leave whenever they wanted. But this week they reportedly backflipped and warned them they would have to stay for the entire event, which is expected to run for more than three hours.

Another person at the meeting told the Telegraph that some of the teams were more worried about the ''haphazard'' and ''confusing'' orders of protocol than any perceived security risk.

The countries have demanded that the organising committee come back to them urgently with more specific details before they will confirm their attendance at the ceremony.

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