THE Delhi Commonwealth Games were plunged into crisis yesterday, 12 days from the start after the athletes’ village was described as “uninhabitable” and a footbridge collapsed at the main stadium.
Adding to the sense of chaos that has enveloped an event India hoped would project its new economic power on the international stage, a leading Australian athlete pulled out of the competition because of security fears.
Organisers scrambled to contain the damage, fearful that a pullout by a major team could wreck the October 3-14 games.
Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, led stinging criticism about the athletes’ residential towers.
“They’re filthy. You can’t occupy them. They need a deep clean. There’s builders’ dust and rubble in doorways, shower doors the wrong way round, toilets that don’t work,” he said just two days before athletes begin arriving.
There was also “excrement in places it shouldn’t be”, he said.
Complaints about cleanliness, plumbing and electrics were also made by other countries that have sent advance parties to the Indian capital, including Scotland which described the village as “unsafe and unfit for human habitation”.
“The reality is that if the village is not ready and athletes can’t come, the implications are that it’s not going to happen,” New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie told New Zealand commercial radio.
“It’s pretty grim really and certainly disappointing when you consider the amount of time they had to prepare.”
At Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which will host the opening ceremony and athletics, a footbridge that was under construction collapsed yesterday injuring 27 labourers, four of them seriously, police said.
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