Thursday 23 November 2017

Chaos in race to rescue Commonwealth Games

Andrew Buncombe in Delhi

DELHI FACES a desperate 48 hours to save its Commonwealth Games after angry teams denounced the athletes' village as "unfit for human habitation" and a bridge collapsed at the main stadium, injuring 23 construction workers.

With the first athletes set to arrive in India on Friday, the future of the Games was in the balance last night. Teams will meet today to discuss their participation, with some seriously considering withdrawing.

Top athletes continued an exodus yesterday. Those to pull out included Britain's Olympic 400m hurdle champion Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey, the Commonwealth 1,500m champion. The world and European triple jump champion Phillips Idowu was considering quitting the England team.

The Games are scheduled to begin in 12 days' time and have been dogged by security concerns, construction problems, a dengue epidemic, filthy accommodation and the withdrawal of star names, including the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt.

The developments are a growing embarrassment for India, which hoped to use the competition as a showcase.

Team bosses suggest that once one country withdraws then others will quickly follow, leading to a drastically reduced Games or, in the worst-case scenario, the cancellation of the sub-continent's largest ever sporting event.

Officials from the 71 competing nations are demanding assurances that the various complaints will somehow be addressed in time.

In a day of farce -- an Indian government minister dismissed the collapse of the bridge as a "minor hiccup"-- team officials condemned conditions at the athletes' village and said that their athletes and officials would have to be accommodated in hotels until the apartment blocks were brought up to scratch, raising fresh security concerns.

Reports said around half the athletes' apartments were dirty and unfinished, and that workers had even defecated on the floor of some of the buildings.

Team Scotland officials derided the accommodation as "unsafe and unfit for human habitation". (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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