Racial slurs and diplomatic row threaten to derail Delhi Games
Two racial slurs within two days directed at the Indian hosts of the Commonwealth Games threaten to stain this competition as the 'disrespectful games'.
One of South Africa's most famous sportsmen, Roland Schoeman -- the African athlete of the year in 2004 -- insulted the Indian crowd at the aquatic centre last night, calling spectators "monkeys" and the Games "a joke".
Only hours earlier a diplomatic row between New Zealand and India over Kiwi television commentator Paul Henry appeared to have quietened down.
Henry, a television commentator who once lost a local election to New Zealand's first transsexual politician, made derogatory remarks concerning New Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit's name.
Tensions among athletes and officials and the Indian hosts have exacerbated throughout the first week of competition as the Games continue to be chaotic, but up until now the complaints have been about the shoddy preparations, sickness, the corruption, the failure of many of the Games operations and poor ticket sales -- rather than personal attacks on the hosts.
Schoeman's sharp retort came after he and English swimmer Simon Burnett had jumped the gun in the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle. They avoided automatic disqualification because the starter had begun telling the swimmers to stand up because of noise distractions from the crowd.
But after the race, where he qualified for the final, Schoeman said: "It's a disgrace. There's a guy in the stands just shouting, shouting, shouting. Somebody like that needs to be ejected.
"At a professional event like this and have the stands and have people going on like monkeys."
Burnett said he had reacted to the sound of the starter, not the crowd noise but said the situation was amateurish, fuelled by an uneducated crowd about swimming etiquette. "There are different crowds, swimming is not big here," he said. "It is a very unusual situation . . . it is amateurish."
Meanwhile, Henry has been suspended from his job following his comments earlier in the week and received a severe reprimand from the Indian government. New Zealand high commissioner Richard Holborrow expressed "deep regret over the hurt". (© Daily Telegraph, London)