Games chief: Indian Government to blame

Games chief: Indian Government to blame

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper insists his organisation should not shoulder the blame for the problems which have plagued the build-up to the event in Delhi.

Complaints have come from a number of teams about the poor state of the athletes’ village, while preparations have also been hit by failures in the construction of venues.

Last Tuesday a bridge at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Games, collapsed leaving over 20 people injured. Then part of the ceiling at the weightlifting arena fell in on Wednesday.

Hooper claimed repeated requests from the CGF’s co-ordination commission earlier in the year to speed up construction fell on deaf ears.

“When we viewed (the Games village) in March it was clear it was a massive work in progress and a lot of work had to be done,” he told Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“Everybody including the chefs de mission who came from all the teams were aware of the construction status.

“We kept getting shown the various model units that had been done and assured ’Yes, we realise we are on a tight schedule but we will all get it done and delivered to the same standard.’

“Again when the co-ordination commission visited in May, two months after the chefs de mission had been, they were given the same reassurances. The co-ordination commission stated publicly in its press release that it put out that a key concern and key issue was the readiness in particular of the Games village.

“All the warning signs were there. We were pushing very hard, we kept pushing. You can lead a horse to water you can’t make it drink. These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem.

“There were consistently missed deadlines. The government agencies have let everybody down over here as regards meeting those deadlines. But that said we have to make it the best it can be and that’s what we’re all hoping to do now.”

England will tonight spend their first night in the Games Village.

A group of around 20 support team staff will stay in the accommodation to ensure conditions are suitable for the for 48 athletes from the hockey, lawn bowls and shooting teams to move in tomorrow.

They will be followed by 36 more competitors from gymnastics, archery and weightlifting on Tuesday.

England chef de mission Craig Hunter said: “It’s not perfect.

“But we are where we think the accommodation is acceptable for us. The village had the potential to be five star, there’s no doubt about that. We’re at about three star at the moment.

“It’s by far from being perfect but it is at a level that we think is acceptable and appropriate for athletes to come to an event and to compete.”

Hunter added: “We are now getting back on track with the planned and phased arrival of athletes and we will begin to reach a peak of team numbers on October 5.

“There is still a lot more to do to be ready for that peak but, meanwhile, I’d like to pay tribute to our support team staff who have worked sometimes literally around the clock to get everything in place and safe for the first athletes’ arrival.

“It has been a challenging experience but one which will make us stronger as we strive to be successful now on the field of play.”

The village faced further criticism today with Indian boxer Akhil Kumar’s bed reportedly collapsing when he sat down on it.

“We reached the Olympic Bhavan late in the afternoon to collect our accreditation cards. But when I sat down on my bed to take rest, it collapsed,” Kumar, who will compete in the 56kg category at the Games, was quoted by saying as the Times of India.

“I checked the bed and part of it had no plywood on it. It was disappointing after enduring a long journey.

“The athletes are at least entitled to a decent place to rest. Even the toilets are not very clean.”

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