Sunday, October 10, 2010

Commonwealth Games 2010: shambles continue as swimming pool filtration system fails

Where's the boss? Where's the tickets? and where's the chlorine? As the Commonwealth Games heads into its eighth day of competition there is no let up of the glitches and stuff ups that have marred the lead up preparations and the actual competition.

At the aquatic centre on the final day, the main pool was so cloudy and dirty, swimmers couldn't see more than two metres underwater, impacting on their turns. The wide television pictures illustrated a stark contrast between a sparkling blue diving pool and a brownish murky tinge to the main 50m pool.

Sources say the problem stemmed from the filtration system that failed completely. Ellen Gandy, an England bronze medallist on the last day, said that she couldn't see more than two metres in front of her during the warm-up.

Kamlesh Nanavati, competition manager at the SP Mukherjee complex, admitted to Telegraph Sport that it was a backwash problem with the pool's filtration but that no federation had directly complained.

He said: "The pool was not dirty but it certainly wasn't clear. We had two tests on the pool and there were no problems."

However British Swimming performance director Michael Scott filed an official complaint with the organisers an hour before the start of competition, but received no satisfaction.

"I feel I have a responsibility to my swimmers who have put in significant hours of training to make sure they have the best possible conditions.

"Would you expect a Formula One racetrack to have substandard conditions? I am obligated to ask the question."

This is the same pool that passed water testing two days ago after it was feared to have been the cause of a spate of ill swimmers, possibly from pigeon droppings contamination.

Divers derigging TV output on the final day said that they had never seen a competition pool so unclear. One said: "There were black bits [from the roof] floating on the bottom and the water has got worse throughout the week."

The Indians are crying foul that they are being unfairly treated by their visitors as the Games continue on their shambolic way.

The Indians claimed an English official was rude at the archery, and the South African swimmer Roland Schoeman had racially offended an Indian spectator calling him a monkey. Both had been cleared after investigations by their respective delegations.

On Saturday the chairman of the organising committee, Suresh Kalmadi – the author of the gaffe about Prince Diana – failed to show at the daily press conference for the second consecutive day.

His replacement, the organising committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot – the author of the line about westerners having different standards of cleanliness to Indians – instead had to take the wrath of an increasingly frustrated Commonwealth Games Federation.

The main problem is the poor crowd attendance at some venues, even though some had been boosted by free tickets to schoolchildren. Bhanot tried to bat away complaints about the sparse attendances, claiming close to one million tickets had been sold, including 54,885 yesterday and said the size of the crowd at the athletics was very good, the boxing was full and of course, the hockey, India's national sport, was sold out for

Indian matches, including Sunday's crunch clash against Pakistan. But the CGF president Mike Fennell stepped in noting "you weren't at this morning's meeting" and revealed an internal investigation was under way.

"When people go to the ticket office and can't purchase a ticket because they are told the event is sold out, something is not right about the ticket sales and we have asked for a thorough report on it." said Fennell.

Of course many of the animal capers are unavoidable. The cobras in the athletes village – the count is up to five snakes –, the swooping crows at the hockey, the wayward dog on the athletics infield, add colour to a Games.

It's the drama the Games don't need.

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