Friday, September 24, 2010

Delhi Metro’s lines to IGI, Badarpur will open next week

There’s good news for the city. Delhi Metro’s two remaining sections — Airport Express Line and Central Secretariat to Badarpur — will be opened for public use next week. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is in the process of getting the mandatory certification from Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS).

The two lines will become operational soon, marking the completion of Phase II of Delhi Metro construction. Two stations on the Airport Express Line, however, will not open before the Commonwealth Games.

According to sources, the 25-km long fast link to IGI airport will be inspected by CMRS on September 27 and 28. The concessionaire of the line, Reliance Infra, has submitted the necessary documentation and pre-work for the inspection. After the safety certification comes through, the line will be opened.

‘‘ It is expected that the line will be opened within a day or two of the inspection . Two stations, Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity, will only be opened after the Commonwealth Games as construction of these is not complete yet,’’ said sources. The CMRS will also inspect the extention of Line 3 from Dwarka Sector 9 to Sector 21 on September 29, which will link Line 3 to Airport Line.

The Airport Link, which has a designed speed of 135kmph, will connect New Delhi Railway station (NDRS) and Dwarka sector 22 and stop at IGI on the way. It has three more designated stops at Shivaji Terminus, Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity. The line has been modelled on the Heathrow Express in London and the Hong Kong Metro airport link.

The airline and baggage check-in counters are being provided at the NDRS, Shivaji terminus and Dhaula Kuan metro stations, which will also start after the Games.

As for the Badarpur line, construction on which has been paced up by DMRC, the corporation is in the process of completing documentation to submit to CMRS by this week. The inspection is expected to take place next week, around September 20-30 , soon after which this line will also open.

‘‘ The Badarpur line had the shortest time for construction and last minute finishing work is still going on at the stations and on the last three kms of the line from Sarita Vihar to Badarpur. It will open by next week,’’ sources said.

The 20.16-km line, which connects Commonwealth Games venues including JN Stadium, is expected to open for public use by September end cutting down travel time from Central Secretariat to Badarpur to just 40 minutes.

It has stations at Central Secretariat , Khan Market, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Jangpura , Lajpat Nagar, Moolchand , Kailash Colony, Nehru Place, Kalkaji Mandir, Govindpuri , Okhla, Jasola, Sarita Vihar, Mohan Estate, Tughlaqabad and Badarpur.

'CWG preparations have dented India's image'

With India’s preparedness for Commonwealth Games coming under intense international scrutiny and the organisers trying to finish work after long-past deadlines, Congress is worried over the image deficit it may cause the party and the government.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday admitted that shoddy preparations have dented the image of the country. “It is pretty depressing to read such things in the international media. India’s image has taken a beating,” Mr Ramesh told a private TV channel. “We are amongst the fastest growing economies. We could have done without this embarrassment,” he added.

International and national media have, over the past few days, focussed on “filthy” and “uninhabitable” conditions at the Games Village. Many in the party share Mr Ramesh’s views on the issue. Although the party has so far been successful in insulating itself from charges of corruption, there is fear that the CWG debacle would make it vulnerable to attack from its rivals.

“There is open criticism everywhere. The man on the street is saying why didn’t the government intervene earlier,” said a party leader who did not wish to be identified.

He also said that there were obvious comparisons on the show India put up in the 1982 Asiad Games and how the UPA government is struggling to put things together in 2010. “When we look back what will we remember of these games — that we struggled to finish work and there were corruption charges,” said the leader.

“I agree we should not have given anyone a chance to point a finger at us,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said. He, however, chose to see the recent criticism by sporting contingents as “stereotyping”.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Congress leaders have begun piling up pressure on the party to take action against Suresh Kalmadi. MPCC spokesman Anant Gadgil told a news agency that Mr Kalmadi, who brought “disgrace” to Maharashtra, should quit from all party posts.

“Leaders like Lokmanya Tilak, BR Ambedkar, YB Chavan and Shankarrao Chavan made Maharashtra proud in Delhi and the country. In the golden jubilee year of Maharashtra, Kalmadi has disgraced such leadership heritage and maligned the state’s image,” Mr Gadgil said.

Keith Roney, 62, competes in his fourth Commonwealth Games

Keith Roney is anxious to address one of the few remaining voids in his highly successful lawn bowling career.

The 62-year-old Reginan has competed for Canada at three Commonwealth Games without bringing home a medal. He hopes that will change at the 2010 Games, which are set for Oct. 3-14 in New Delhi, India.

"We've been knocking on the door at the Commonwealth Games — at least on the teams that I've been on,'' Roney said. "We've just come up a little bit short. We're hoping to improve on the close calls.''

Roney previously bowled at the Games in 1998 (in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as part of Canada's men's fours team), 2002 (Manchester, England; men's fours) and 2006 (Melbourne, Australia; men's pairs). This time around, he is to bowl in men's pairs alongside 44-year-old Michel Larue of Longueuil, Que.

"We were close in Kuala Lumpur,'' Roney recalled. "It was a bit unfortunate. We wound up having three ties, and a 3-3-3 record. If the ties had been converted into wins, we would have gotten a medal. Could've been, should've been . . .''

Four years later, Roney & Co. were eliminated in a quarterfinal in Manchester. Roney and Larue then teamed up for the 2006 Games.

"We've got a bit of unfinished business,'' Roney said. "At the past Commonwealth Games, we lost a semifinal for a medal. We want to improve on that result.''

That said, it is difficult to improve on the results Roney has achieved since becoming a member of Bowls Canada's national team in 1988. He has travelled the world, competing in the most prestigious lawn bowling events.

Most notably, Roney teamed up with Ryan Bester of Hanover, Ont., to win the world pairs title in 2004 in Ayr, Scotland — where Roney and Bester became the first Canadians to finish first in an event at the worlds since the event began in 1966. As well, Roney was part of Canada's men's triples team that won a bronze medal at the 2008 worlds in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"It has sort of been an amazing ride,'' marvelled Roney, who was the curator of life sciences at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum until retiring in 2006.

"It's still quite a commitment to play at a high level, although age is not a factor. It's just a matter of staying in shape and maintaining the skill level.''

That can be difficult when the Regina Lawn Bowling Club's greens are covered with snow. As a result, Roney routinely competes in temperate areas of the United States during January and February.

As a tuneup for the Commonwealth Games, Roney and his fellow members of the national team recently competed against the United States' elite bowlers in Milwaukee. He hopes that the impressive showing in Wisconsin will serve as a catalyst for greater successes in India.

"It really doesn't get much cooler,'' Roney said of competing in the Commonwealth Games on behalf of his country. "I've done it for a number of years, but it never loses its edge or its thrill.

"It's always there, and it's always an honour to play for Canada and compete — especially when you march into the stadium and you're wearing the Canadian maple leaf. No matter how many times you do that, it's still very exciting. There's really not much that can compare to it.''

Except, perhaps, for winning an elusive Commonwealth Games medal.

"I'm so hungry I can taste it,'' Roney said.

Commonwealth shame scores high on Twitter

India jumped into the world’s twitter map on Thursday. The collapse of a bridge, coupled with the flash of photographs of filthy Games Village across cyberspace, has made the keywords ‘CWG’ and ‘Commonwealth Games’ as the seventh and 10th most tweeted topic in the world by the 190 million twitter community, this week.

Tweet trends in the UK and Australia show ‘Commonwealth’ as the most popular tweeted topic. India’s twitter map also shows CWG, and #CWG as the top-most tweeted keyword, followed by ‘Kalmadi’, ‘Ayodhya’, and ‘Verdict’.

The tweets started pouring from across the world as one of the most accessed news websites in the world, put India’s Commonwealth shame as lead stories on their home page on Thursday. The barrage of tweets from across the world peaked around 2 pm IST on Wednesday, and 3 pm on Thursday.

News coupled with splash of pictures of UK-based DailyMail’s expose of filthy conditions inside some rooms of the Games Village, resulted in angry comments from the world’s 190 million Twitter community. India’s shame splashed across world’s top media sites, made the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself step and take charge of the matter.

Some of the overseas web magazines tweeted about pullout of their local sportsmen, while individual tweeters showered sarcasm on India’s readiness. ‘Cyclingweekly’ magazine service tweeted: Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas have withdrawn from the Isle of Man and Welsh teams for the Commonwealth Games.

‘Djmaxwell’ from Britain said: “Commonwealth games athletes village...I feel sick. Team GB, don’t go!” “Doctor_Hutch from Australia said: “Commonwealth Games kit just arrived. They forgot the chest waders and the biohazard suit.”
Not only on microblogging sites like Twitter, the callous attitude of the Commonwealth Games organising authorities, is also being lambasted by social networkers on Facebook.

Users in India have created forums and groups lambasting the slackness of the organising committee. One of these groups is called Jhel (bear) The Commonwealth Games. The group with over 2000 members has designed its own logo and distributing black bands to protest against the corruption in the Games.

However, there are other groups as well upbeat about the games. Youth volunteers who are likely to help in the organising of the games, are upbeat on this Facebook Group Commonwealth Games XIX, and post regular updates and coordinate for sporty event, despite the media criticism.

Scots fly out to Commonwealth Games but big clean-up still isn't finished

THE vanguard of Scotland's Commonwealth Games squad will fly out to Delhi today as last-minute work continues to prepare their accommodation.
• Security is tight at New Delhi Airport as the athletes, among them those from England who will initially stay in hotels, fly in for the Games

Scores of competitors will touch down in the Indian capital at 9:30am tomorrow and will be taken straight to the athletes' village complex to begin preparing for their shot at glory.

Unlike their English counterparts, the Scots competitors will not stay in hotels initially, with team officials satisfied that outstanding hygiene at the much-criticised accommodation blocks are close to being resolved.

Nonetheless, the chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) said he expected there would be "challenges ahead", after a week in which the nation's participation was in serious doubt due to health and safety concerns.

As the first wave of competitors leave for Delhi from Glasgow airport this afternoon. The confidence in the Scottish camp about the readiness of the Games site is not shared throughout other home nations squads, with further call-offs yesterday from athletes who believe the risks to be too great.

Any threat to the Games taking place now appears to have receded as athletes from all nations make their way to Delhi. Even so, criticism towards the host nation remains fierce, with a senior Australian official saying that India should not have been awarded the Games.

As far as Scotland is concerned, the team's chef de mission, Jon Doig, has confirmed that progress is being made after concerns that the facility was not fit for purpose.

Michael Cavanagh, chairman of CGS, said: "I am delighted that the board has been able to confirm our intention to fly to the Games on Saturday as hoped.

"There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead in Delhi, 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, and we thank them for their unstinting efforts."

A party of 41 athletes and staff delayed their departure to India on Tuesday after complaints about conditions.

The Scottish team is travelling out in groups and those due to leave tomorrow are from archery, lawn bowls, shooting, tennis and weightlifting.

The first group of 41 did not travel earlier this week following concerns over conditions in Delhi. These athletes - rugby players, boxers and wrestlers - are now expected to travel on Tuesday. In all, Scotland will be sending 192 athletes, with scheduled flights also booked for Sunday and Thursday

Some competitors will travel in from other training and competition locations worldwide.

While England have temporarily housed some athletes in hotels as work continues in the village, a spokeswoman for CGS told The Scotsman that competitors would be taken directly to the accommodation blocks.

Willie Wood, the 72-year-old bowler who is due to compete at his eighth Commonwealth Games, said: "I am absolutely delighted to hear that we will be travelling to Delhi as planned.

"It's great to see that things have moved on significantly from the start of the week and I can now focus on competing."

At least eight nations expressed reservations over the preparations for the Games, with teams hitting out at accommodation for athletes described as "unfit for human habitation".

Earlier this week, officials from Team Scotland released a series of photographs showing flooding and debris in the athletes' quarters.

Individual athletes, including reigning Commonwealth triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, have decided not to attend because of safety fears.

England's Russell Downing and Greg Henderson of New Zealand were the latest road cyclists to withdraw following four of their Team Sky colleagues on Thursday.

Henderson, 34, said: "There are just too many risks and in this situation the cons outweigh the pros. It's about my family. I've got to think about my wife and little girl Charlie, and they don't want me going to the Commonwealth Games."

As well as the condition of the accommodation which will be home to 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 nations, doubts over the Games intensified when a footbridge to the main stadium collapsed and the roof of the weightlifting venue fell in.

Speaking yesterday, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said India should not have been awarded the Games, adding that the Commonwealth Games Federation lacked the resources to monitor the progress of construction deadlines.

But Shona Robison, the Scottish sports minister, said: "I am delighted that Commonwealth Games Scotland now feel they are in a position to confirm that our athletes will travel to compete. The Scottish Government and its partners have been working hard to ensure that Team Scotland participates in the Delhi Games and I would like to commend our athletes for their positive attitude during a very challenging time."

Ms Robison said she received assurances from Indian sports minister Manohar Singh Gill yesterday that health and safety concerns are being addressed and plans to hold further talks.

Two years after CYG, work still goes on

Civic body may push for March 2012 deadline to complete road, parking projects

Even as New Delhi races with time to clear the mess and make the Capital ready for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), work is still on to complete many infrastructure projects sanctioned for the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) hosted by Pune in October 2008.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was approved Rs 422 crore for 40 projects to upgrade infrastructure, mainly roads. Struggling till the eleventh hour, the civic body made it just about enough to hold the event.

According to an estimate, work on at least 50 per cent of the sanctioned projects is still on. Five projects have not taken off at all and the PMC is now seeking an extension of the deadline to March 2012.

The PMC agrees there has been a delay, but claims 95 per cent of the work has been completed at an expenditure of Rs 330 crore against the estimated Rs 422 crore. Development of roads, parking terminals and pedestrian paths, along the route from the airport to the venues, was the main work sanctioned. The Union government had approved the projects in two phases, road development in March 2007 and terminal facilities in September 2008.

The major road works still on include the stretch from the Airport Road to the Deccan College, Airport Road to Vishrantwadi Chowk, Baner Gaothan to Balewadi Gaothan, FC Road to the Agriculture College junction and Sancheti Hospital to Sangam Bridge.

Work on roads from the railway station to M G Road, railway station to RTO junction and Shivajinagar to Ganeshkhind Road, is also not over yet. Of the 12 parking terminals approved, work on five, including one at Baner, near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex in Balewadi, has not started at all.

“The main reason for the delay was hurdles in land acquisition. The worka are being completed as per land availability. However, we will seek extension of the deadline to March 2012,” said Vinay Deshpande, Officer on Special Duty, who is also in charge of the JNNURM cell of PMC.

In some places where land has been acquired against the wishes of the owners, the civic body si facing stiff resistance as the owners want compensation before work starts. “It is obvious they will oppose if they have not received compensation. They are not even allowing cutting of trees on the land,” Deshpande said.

On the likelihood of the delay pushing up project cost, he said it won’t be much as the work is on and only parts of each project were incomplete. “Land acquisition is taking time in case of Defence, Court and Survey of India lands. The process to acquire land is on,” Deshpande said. Deshpande agreed that work on the five parking terminals has not yet begun.

'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.

A day of high profile visits at the Games Village

It was another day of frenetic activity at the Commonwealth Games Village as top-ranking officials continued to drop in for inspections throughout Friday. Early on a sunny day, at 8:50 am, OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi and vice chairman Randhir Singh entered, and along with CGF president Mike Fennell,
they took stock of the arrangements at the Village. Fennell later said that “considerable improvements” had been made and things were rapidly improving.

Later in the day, CGF CEO Mike Hooper held a meeting with the chiefs of mission of various countries in the International Zone. OC director-general VK Verma said there was a “positive response,” even though HT sources indicated otherwise. But after the meet ended, Kalmadi was seen asking volunteers how the media had been allowed inside, after which Shera banners were hastily installed to keep prying eyes and cameras out.

England's chef de mission Craig Hunter also visited the Village and looked happy with the arrangements. “It's a great Games Village. The venues are world-class and we are looking at getting the rest of the team out there,” he said. British High Commissioner Richard Stagg also visited the Village.

In the afternoon, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit made an impromptu appearance at the Village. She pulled in at 3:20pm and was kept waiting for close to 15 minutes, as there were no golf carts to ferry her around. She also spent an hour inside the athletes' quarters before leaving. “The conditions have definitely improved here. Though the stagnant water in the basements is a tougher problem, we have enough repellants to ensure that mosquitoes do not bite and infect the residents here. There are people here who will work throughout the night (on Friday) to ensure that everything happens on time,” she said.

When she was asked about teams choosing to stay in different hotels instead of the Village, Dixit said, “They're welcome here anytime to see what the state of the accommodation is.” She also said that some residential towers had become easier to clean after professional help was brought in.

The next high profile entry was made by Delhi Police Commissioner, YS Dadwal, who said that security, arranged by his force, was top-notch.

Welsh flags, the only visible sign of an international presence in the residential zone, fluttered outside flats in a tower. Inside the International Zone, it wasn't business as usual, as no athletes have arrived.

The merchandise shop wore a deserted look, as did the hair salon and general store. Some delegates ambled around the area, but apart from them, the place mostly buzzed with camerapersons and news crews looking for stories.

Confusion, lack of information make life tough

There is total chaos in the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee. With the Games Village being the focal point of top OC officials, all other pressing operational works have taken a backseat. Such is the confusion and lack of coordination that even the media is finding it difficult to get simple
information like the arrival of teams in the Village. There is no press release and no one seems to know what's happening. Even the media centre at the Village does not have a clue on who all have checked in and when the new arrivals are expected. No one knows when the teams are practicing and where.

Kalmadi can't be removed

Contrary to reports, Suresh Kalmadi is still the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman and according to sources, he cannot be removed, at least for now. "We have a written agreement between the OC, the CGF and the government that the OC would deliver the Games with Kalmadi as the chief," said a source. Also, since he is an elected member of an Indian Olympic Association, he cannot be asked to quit undemocratically.

Get cracking, says PM

In a late-night meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met Sports Minister MS Gill, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, apparently told the ministers to not blame each other but concentrate on the more pressing issues at hand.

Media centre, a breath of fresh air

Entering the Main Press Centre for the Commonwealth Games was a breath of fresh air. The site will be the nerve-centre and second home for over 2000 print, online and broadcast journalists who are expected to cover the event. Walking into the centre on a warm Friday afternoon, a rarity these days,
the well laid out, spacious and cool interiors came as more than a pleasant surprise.

Wired Up

For print and photo journalists, filing stories from the press centre should not be a problem. Apart from the fact that most parts of the building are wireless enabled, there are also 300 workstations connected to a local area network with high-speed internet access. The workstations are all connected to printers as well. Also, there are plenty of laptop stations.

Coverage and information

The centre houses eight viewing rooms, where live feeds of the various disciplines will be screened on large TVs. Each room can seat at least 50 people. Information screens have been set up all around the site, which will display upcoming events, schedules as well as results. There is a large press conference hall, as well as smaller briefing rooms, and special rooms for pre-arranged one on one interviews.

Food and Drink

Outside the small village that is the media centre is being built a large food court that will serve cuisines from around the world, around the clock, to keep the army of journalists fuelled and ready. And since all good journalists enjoy a tipple, a bar is also in the final stages of completion!

India cautions world to show 'respect' in Commonwealth Games criticisms

India's industry minister is lashing out at critics of his country's readiness to host the Commonwealth Games, warning potential trade partners to treat the emerging economic powerhouse with "respect."

With the United States still limping from its worst recession in decades, countries such as Canada are looking to expand their trade ties with the world's two fastest growing major economies: China and India. But as Canada tries to gain access to these massive emerging markets, it must not only surmount traditional trade barriers, but also deep cultural differences and the perception in some quarters that China and India have been snubbed by the traditional club of rich western nations.

At a news conference Friday to promote trade talks with Canada, India's commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma, rejected international criticism of the upcoming Commonwealth Games as "unwarranted" and "unfair."

"There is no major project anywhere which is concluded to perfection," Sharma told reporters, noting that Canada has faced similar criticism in the past when hosting global events. "Trying to run down the country is not acceptable to us."

He was responding to a stream of complaints in recent days about the facilities at the Commonwealth Games, due to kick off Oct. 3 in Delhi. Officials from participating countries have described the athletes' village as filthy and unsafe, and athletes from several countries, including Canada, have threatened to skip the games.

The scramble by India to prepare for the games, meant to showcase the country's emergence as a major power, stands in stark contrast to the impressive display of technology and organization shown by Beijing at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 summer Olympics.

Sharma bristled at the suggestion that India would fail to welcome guests in an appropriate manner.

"We have very rich cultural traditions, and we know how to receive our guests. Our guests will be welcomed, and the Commonwealth Games will be rejoiced and remembered."

Sharma reminded India's trade partners there could be economic consequences for those who find fault with the games facilities. "It would be a mistake not to engage with India with respect, and when it comes to business, whose loss (would it) be?" said Sharma.

The remarks come as Canada and India set the stage for a free-trade agreement between the two countries, a deal that could take years to negotiate but that officials estimate could eventually generate an additional $6 billion to $15 billion every year in output for the Canadian economy.

After being chided by trade experts for ignoring India's growing economic clout, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has recently ramped up its efforts to woo the world's second fastest growing major economy. Last November, Harper paid his first visit to India as prime minister. Then, at this summer's G20 summit in June, the two sides signed a deal that paves the way for Canada to sell uranium and civilian nuclear technology to India.

This week, federal Trade Minister Peter Van Loan identified a free-trade deal with India as one of his top priorities, along with maintaining close ties with the United States and inking a trade agreement with the European Union. But on Friday, he could not provide a date for the formal launch of negotiations with India on a trade pact.

The two sides unveiled a joint study that underscores both the opportunities and challenges of a trade agreement between Canada and India, which will likely take several years to finalize.

The report notes that Canada's total trade with India in 2008 reached $4 billion U.S., a small proportion of the $865 billion U.S. in total merchandise trade that Canada did that year. "It appears that the India-Canada trade relationship is significantly under-traded," it states.

New Zealand confirms Commonwealth Games participation

New Zealand has confirmed that they will athletes to the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, meaning that the Sevens team will be able to try and keep their perfect record, having won every Sevens Gold on offer since the sport was introduced at Kuala Lumpur in the 1998 Games.

However the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) has said that the situation will be reviewed daily.

The decision was announced at a press conference by NZOC president Mike Stanley and secretary-general Barry Maister.

Both men have just returned from India to inspect facilities first hand before briefing the NZOC board.

"We remain hopeful that things can be turned around," Mr Stanley said.

"What we found was inexcusable and unacceptable but we've seen a change in leadership and this is positive."

New Zealand athletes are scheduled to arrive in New Delhi from September 28, and amidst concerns over player safety and conditions, Mr Stanley said that it was clear that the Indian Government had made significant progress in recent days.

The Chief Minister of Delhi had brought in 40 of her top administrators after recent issues were made public over the condition of the athletes village.

The NZOC board said the group of nearly 200 athletes would filter into Delhi on Tuesday, and advised them where possible to delay arrival to give the locals maximum time to get ready for the Games, scheduled to commence with the opening ceremony on October 3.

Gordon Tietjens and the team are assembling at the end of the month, with a injury replacement for Adam Thomson still to be named. They will then travel to Dubai on October 1, before heading to India.

The Sevens component of the games will be held at Delhi University on October 11 and 12.

New Zealand has won three consecutive Gold's at the Games since it was introduced, and have not lost a match at the games. Their first Gold medal success, won in Kuala Lumpur, was New Zealand's 100th Commonwealth Games medal.

They will enter as top seeds and head Pool A, where they will face opening matches against World Series regulars Scotland and Canada as well as Caribbean champions Guyana, who also competed on the World Series this season in Las Vegas.

Australia team to move to Games Village on September 27

Australian Commonwealth Games Chief, Perry Crosswhite, indicated here today that the Australian contingent would be ready to move into the Games Village on September 27.

He stated this after visiting the Games Village, where a massive clean-up operation is underway. "We were quite happy with the Village. We are happy to live there and we are looking forward to the Games," said Crosswhite.

A number of countries have sent advance teams to take stock of the situation on the ground following reports of housing compounds that were not ready.

With only nine days to go, security has been tightened in and around the venues, the Games Village as well as throughout the capital.

Sniffer dogs were deployed around the Games Village along with police who patrolled the facility.

Security concerns are also high on the list after two Taiwanese journalists were shot and wounded by unknown assailants at the weekend in Delhi.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games, which kicks off on October 3, is India's biggest sporting event since the 1982 Asian Games.

India is expecting about two million tourists in New Delhi for the Games, as well as about 10,000 athletes from 71 teams representing 54 Commonwealth member states.

Commonwealth shame: IOC president Jacques Rogge says give India a chance

India's potential for hosting future Olympics should not be written off before giving embattled New Delhi organisers a chance to pull off the Commonwealth Games with a "last-ditch" effort, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said in an interview today.

Rogge told The Associated Press that he hopes India can come through, just as Greek organisers overcame "doomsday scenarios" to stage the successful 2004 Athens Olympics despite severe construction delays and political wrangling.

The International Olympic Committee leader will travel to New Delhi next week to attend the October 3 opening of the Commonwealth Games, which were put at risk this week by filthy conditions at the athletes' village, a pedestrian bridge collapse and health and security concerns.

The chaotic preparations have seemingly doomed India's hopes of bidding for the 2020 Olympics, but Rogge said it was too early to rule the country out.

"I think I can hardly make a judgment before the Games have even started," Rogge said. "Let's give them the chance to prove they can stage good Games. It would be with a last-ditch effort and it probably would be costly, but let's hope they can fulfil that.

"Hopefully the Indians can pull out a last-ditch effort like the Greeks have done," he said.

The Commonwealth Games, an Olympic-style multi-sports event bringing together more than 7,000 athletes from 71 countries and territories, was meant to underline India's emergence as an Asian power on the world stage and serve as a platform for an Olympic bid.

"It's far too premature to discuss this," Rogge said. "This is something that has to be seen by the Indians themselves. There is no doubt they will make an analysis of the games. They will have to see if their original intentions can be kept or not."

Corruption scandals, delays in getting facilities ready and squalid conditions at the athletes' village have turned the event into an embarrassment for India - even raising the prospect of the Games being called off or of teams refusing to attend.

back to top