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Asia

Commonwealth Games 2010 put India to shame

The build-up to this huge sporting event in New Delhi has been overwhelmed by problems, from graft to delayed construction of venues and security issues.

The building of the Commonwealth Games Village has been shambolic

The building of the Commonwealth Games Village has been shambolic

Less than two weeks before the opening ceremony, the much-touted Commonwealth Games are in jeopardy. The event, which was supposed to propel India into the role of an emerging global power, is threatening to turn into a national embarrassment.

On Tuesday, a footbridge collapsed near Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies are due to take place. Almost 30 people were injured.

In addition there has been an outbreak of dengue fever, monsoon floods and intensified security concerns after two Taiwanese tourists were shot at at the capital’s iconic Jama Masjid.

Unhygienic conditions at Games Village

Another major concern is the unsanitary conditions of the residential facilities in the athlete's village.

"We have emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of the conditions and cleanliness of the Games Village, which I would say in many of the towers, I am not going to pull any punches, was filthy," Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper recently said.

The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium has been renovated for the Commonwealth Games

The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium has been renovated for the Commonwealth Games

His comments came after an advanced party from New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and Ireland had raised similar concerns. Some countries have effectively given Delhi a few days to clean up the village or face the prospect of withdrawals.

"We are doing our best"

However, the organizing committee secretary-general, Lalit Bhanot, downplayed the issue and said the situation was under control.

"We are doing our best and we are sure and confident that we will be able to complete the entire cleaning. They want a certain kind of hygiene; they want a certain kind of cleanliness, which may differ from my standard. We have upgraded and our people have assured that a similar type of hygiene as they are looking for will be done."

There has been concern that the conditions in the residential quarters of the Games Village are unhygienic

There has been concern that the conditions in the residential quarters of the Games Village are unhygienic

Australia's world champion discus thrower Dani Samuels has already pulled out of the Games, citing health and security concerns. Three top English athletes, including world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, have also cancelled their trip due to security fears.

Urban development minister downplays worries

Some 7,000 athletes are expected to attend the Games - this is where many of them will eat

Some 7,000 athletes are expected to attend the Games - this is where many of them will eat

Realising that more participants could drop out, a worried urban development minister, Jaipal Reddy, who heads the group of ministers constituted to oversee the Games, appealed to everyone involved.

"With a few days to go for the Games, some of these concerns are exaggerated. I don’t think we should get worried. However, I would like to assure all the athletes, foreign guests and officials that their complaints and grievances will be attended to elaborately."

The games, hosted for the first time by the Commonwealth's most populous nation, are expected to draw more than 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories. Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Anne Thomas

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