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While I believe this is true, Channel 7 is now just exploiting the situation for their own sensationalist gain.

Yeah, you are right on the button to a degree. The three commercial networks down here - 7, 9 and 10 - and especially their "current affairs" teams, often seem to spend more time trying to find sensational ways to attack each others top rating shows than actually uncovering real news. I think it's very much a pre-emptive dig at 10 (The CWG rights holders this year).

But that said, even 10 now is jumping on the "crisis" bandwagon- their news last night was pretty well dominated by the Delhi Disasters. Maybe they see all publicity as good publicity.

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Yeah, you are right on the button to a degree. The three commercial networks down here - 7, 9 and 10 - and especially their "current affairs" teams, often seem to spend more time trying to find sensational ways to attack each others top rating shows than actually uncovering real news. I think it's very much a pre-emptive dig at 10 (The CWG rights holders this year).

But that said, even 10 now is jumping on the "crisis" bandwagon- their news last night was pretty well dominated by the Delhi Disasters. Maybe they see all publicity as good publicity.

same with the news in new zealadn. Both the lead stories on 1 and 3 last night were on the Delhi games.

It appears New Zealand will make a decision later this afternoon on New Zealand's participation.

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24 hours to save the Commonwealth Games: Clegg warns time is running out after Delhi stadium ceiling falls in

By Richard Shears

Last updated at 12:24 AM on 23rd September 2010

  • England boss admits competition is 'on a knife-edge'
  • Scotland team confirms it has delayed its departure to Delhi
  • Countries worried by 'unsafe and unfit for human habitation'
  • Australian film crew enter stadium with bomb kit undetected
  • Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey pull out

Beleaguered organisers of the crisis-hit Delhi Commonwealth Games, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned yesterday.

As officials scrambled to save the showpiece event, the England team described its future as being on a 'knife edge' and said the next 24 hours would be vital in deciding whether to send its competitors.

Some nations have warned the games may have to be cancelled or postponed unless facilities in the village which will house 7,000 athletes are dramatically and rapidly improved.

Questions: Nick Clegg seen meeting students in New York yesterday

Several top athletes have pulled out while Scotland has delayed sending some of its athletes and Wales gave administrators for the games a deadline to confirm all venues and the games village are fit for purpose.

Indian officials tried to play down the crisis, promising all problems would be addressed, but Mr Clegg said : 'Time is running short. It's for athletes to decide themselves whether they want to attend or not, but I do hope we give the organisers the chance to sort themselves out so we give the games the chance to be the success they always wanted it to be.'

The run up to the opening ceremony on October 3 has been plagued by construction delays, allegations of corruption, terror threats, monsoons and an outbreak of dengue fever.

There was more bad news for the organisers yesterday when part of the ceiling of the weightlifting arena fell in just 24 hours after a footbridge – near the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the games – collapsed, injuring 23 people.

The athletes' village has been condemned as 'unfit for human habitation', with plumb¬ing, wiring, hygiene and furnishing problems.

article-1314197-0B4C917A000005DC-504_634x386.jpg Repairs: Workers without safety harnesses climb down the roof of the weightlifting venue for the Commonwealth Games at Jawarharlal Stadium today

article-1314197-0B4CC77A000005DC-379_634x360.jpg Keeping watch: Security guards stand guard outside the partially collapsed roof of the weightlifting area at the Jawaharlal Stadium today

Repairs: The weightlifting arena is part of the main Jawaharlal Stadium

Three of England's biggest athletics stars pulled out of the competition.

Olympic 400m gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu, world champion triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Commonwealth 1,500m champion Lisa Dobriskey have said they will not go to Delhi.

Preparations for the Games have been beset with problems, including security fears, athlete withdrawals and today stern criticism of the facilities in the athletes' village.

Teams have described accommodation in the village as unfit for human habitation and Commonwealth Games England chairman Sir Andrew Foster admitted problems with the athletes' village have left the competition 'on a knife-edge' and facing 'a critical 24 to 48 hours'.

Leading politicians played down the ceiling collapse, with Cabinet Secretary KM Chandreshekhar insisting it was a 'minor' issue.

'The cables which were to be set up for the data network were placed on the false ceiling and due to the weight of the cables the ceiling fell off. It's a minor thing and it will be corrected. It's not a matter to be worried about,' he said.

article-1313907-0B48B501000005DC-588_634x333.jpg Crisis: Indian security personnel work at the site of a collapsed pedestrian bridge outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi today

article-1313907-0B48AB5C000005DC-908_634x592.jpg Chaos: The 100m pedestrian bridge fell apart less than a fortnight before the Games

article-1313907-0B48BBC2000005DC-705_634x437.jpg Injuries: Five labourers were rushed to hospital with critical injuries

Time is fast running out for the Delhi authorities to prevent an embarrasing shambles.

Scotland, New Zealand and Canada had already voiced concerns about the standard of the accommodation and today England joined the chorus of criticism.

The Scotland team today confirmed it was delaying its departure to Delhi.

An England spokesman expressed 'grave concerns' over the accommodation for the total of 6,500 athletes.

Some parts of the Village were described as 'unsafe and unfit for human habitation' and Games federation chief executive Mike Hooper labelled the conditions 'filthy'.

It is not clear why world triple jump champion Idowu has withdrawn, but Ohuruogu and Dobriskey both have injury concerns

Triple blow: Middle-distance runners Lisa Dobriskey, Chrstine Ohurugu and triple jumper Phillips Idowu have all given varying reasons for pulling out of the Delhi Games

They were all due to defend their Commonwealth titles in Delhi.

Australian champion discus thrower Dani Samuels, who won the gold medal in the World Championships last year, was the first athlete to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games because of her concerns over her safety and health in Delhi.

Miss Samuels, 32, told Australian team officials today that she was worried about her security after an attack on two tourists - and she was also concerned about her health because of a recent outbreak of dengue fever.

Meanwhile, an Australian television news crew were able to carry a case for an explosives detonation kit into the stadium without being stopped.

The case could have triggered up to 200 explosions if it had been fitted with a detonator.

Footage broadcast late on Monday showed reporter Mike Duffy easily walking into the cordoned off area with the oversized, wheeled suitcase when a gate was opened to allow a police convoy through.

Pulled out: Australian discus world champion Dani Samuels will not compete at the Games over security fears

'Patrol cars drive in, I slip through,' he says in a voiceover. 'While they're distracted by their own cars, I breeze in with an oversized suitcase.

'There are dozens of police. But nobody asks me what it's for. And this is no ordinary piece of luggage.

'It's a portable, purpose-built casing for a remote detonation kit. The unit is capable of setting off 200 explosions.'

Duffy had earlier secretly filmed the purchase of the case from the boot of a car in a restaurant car park north of New Delhi.

article-1313907-0B4A4725000005DC-722_634x400.jpg Recovering: The labourers injured in the Jawaharlal Stadium footbridge collapse are treated for their injuries at the spartan-looking Safdarjung Hospita

'If I need to blow up this car, all I need further is a detonator and explosive,' the vendor tells Duffy.

The news crew said they were easily able to obtain both items, including ammonium nitrate and explosives used for mining, within a day's drive of New Delhi.

Organisers of the Games have promised the event will be safe, but Australia issued another warning about safety on Monday, saying there was a 'high risk' of an attack in New Delhi.

The Commonwealth Games Federation has asked the Indian government to take urgent steps to improve conditions at the athletes' village.

Concern: Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said: 'The Commonwealth Games village is seriously compromised'

Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell has admitted that the village is 'seriously compromised' and has written to the Indian Cabinet Secretary expressing his 'great concern'.

He said: 'The village is the cornerstone of any Games and the athletes deserve the best possible environment to prepare for their competition.

'Many nations that have already sent their advanced parties to set up within the village have made it abundantly clear that, as of the afternoon of September 20, the Commonwealth Games village is seriously compromised.'

Commonwealth Games England released a statement earlier today which read: 'There is a lot still to be done in the Village and this needs to be done with some urgency so that it is ready for the arrival of our first athletes on Friday.'

article-1313862-0B47836B000005DC-153_634x309.jpg Clean-up time: The village is fumigated in the race to have it ready

And England Commonwealth Games boss Craig Hunter said: 'There is mud everywhere, where we are there is a lot of remedial work to be done but the days of monsoon rain have delayed the work and there are new challenges that have been revealed around the village.

'There is unsafe electrical equipment in some rooms, in some areas there are plumbing issues, things like doors not fitting properly and one of the walls adjacent to our accommodation which has washing machines has not been plumbed in. On the top floor there is no secure barrier and it needs to be boxed in to become safe.

'Since our first inspection, monsoon weather has highlighted a number of different issues which need to be addressed including plumbing, electrical and other operational details.'

Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, expressed his concerns, too, and told the BBC: 'Very soon, 6,500 people from 61 countries will be coming and we have real concerns about whether they can be accommodated.

article-1313907-0B493F6C000005DC-307_634x379.jpg Bog standard: The toilet facilities in the Delhi athletes' village which was criticised by Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland

article-1313907-0B493F94000005DC-610_634x401.jpg No luxury: A bedroom in the village which will prove a far cry from the facilities enjoyed by British athletes at the Beijing Olympics

'The problem is that there are other aspects, not just the accommodation, there are parts of the Athletes' Village that aren't functioning.

'We've been told there are piles of rubble lying around the village. They have a very short space of time so we hope the Indian government will put real pressure on the organisers.

'The Delhi organising committee are running out of time and they need to do it very, very quickly.'

Cavanagh said there were a series of meetings happening in Delhi today that there was a possible 'Plan B' but would not give details.

article-1313862-0B1B4057000005DC-638_634x393.jpg Nearly there: A sound barrier goes up just outside the Commonwealth Games village - but the methods used would probably not get past UK health and safety officers

New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie confirmed the facilities were below standard.

He told Newstalk ZB: 'The way things are looking, it's not up to scratch. The rea

lity is that if the village is not ready and athletes can't come, the implications are that it's not going to happen. It is unacceptable from the organising committee that they have put athletes through this.'

Fennell said that the high security measures at the Games mean work which ought to have been in place is taking longer to complete.

He added: 'Since the nations have been arriving at the village they have all commented favourably on the appearance of the international zone and the main dining area.

'However, the condition of the residential zone has shocked the majority of CGAs that are in Delhi and, despite their attempts to work with the organising committee in a constructive manner since arriving on September 15, significant operational matters remain un-addressed.

'The problems are arising because deadlines for the completion of the village have been consistently pushed out. Now, the high security around the site, while vital, is slowing progress and complicating solutions.'

Wales chef de mission Chris Jenkins said impressive progress has been made with his team's accommodation but there are still major concerns for other teams.

Waiting game: A security guard at the entrance to the Commonwealth Games village

Jenkins said: 'We have been working closely with the Delhi organising committee to resolve the issues we faced on first inspection of our tower and while there has been impressive progress made, we also still feel there are a number of operational issues that need to be addressed.

'We are in a good position because we came out early to set up. Therefore, we have had time to improve the standard of our building. Our major concern is for other countries yet to arrive.

'Many of these will arrive with athletes and face a village that is compromised. Wales and the other countries here call on the Delhi Organising Committee and the Indian Government to increase their efforts to rectify these problems.'

Another security alarm was raised on Sunday when two Taiwanese tourists were injured in a shooting incident near the Jama Masjid mosque. The busload of Taiwanese tourists were fired at by a person riding pillion on a motorcycle.

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For about the first time ever in my memory, I'm finding the water cooler gossip in the office is inded all about the CWGs today. It really is becoming an issue that everyone's got an opinion on now - and which is being splashed across the front pages of all the major papers here today.

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New Delhi backers must go

By Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun

Last Updated: September 22, 2010 7:37pm

http://www.torontosun.com/sports/columnists/2010/09/22/15443891.html

If you indeed reap what you sow, then every delegate who voted for New Delhi, India to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games should now stand up and take a bow. And then resign.

The Games, which run Oct. 3-14, are promising to turn into an unmitigated disaster, with health and safety headaches piling up by the day and Commonwealth member nations, including Canada, threatening to withdraw from the competition unless the Indian government takes immediate steps to remedy an increasingly dire situation. Canadian officials have delayed the departure of its athletes to New Delhi and Manitoba archers, Kevin Tataryn and Dietmar Trillus, on Wednesday withdrew from the Games.

And this is precisely what happens when politics and greed rear their ugly heads in amateur sport, particularly at the international level.

Back in 2003, at the swanky Half Moon Bay Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Commonwealth nations delegates voted 46-22 to award the Indian capital the Games over Hamilton, despite the fact that the Ontario city, according to many neutral observers, put forth the best bid. (Reminiscent of the 1996 Olympic Games bid, which were awarded to Atlanta, home of one of the IOC’s major sponsors, Coca-Cola, over cities with superior bids, including Toronto. Atlanta turned out to be one of the worst Games ever).

However, just before the final vote in Jamaica, the New Delhi bid group promised $128,000 to each participating country, along with air tickets, boarding, lodging and transport, if they were awarded the Games — essentially a last-minute bribe which the Commonwealth Games committee allowed, much to the astonishment of the Hamilton group.

Since then, corruption and controversy have plagued the 2010 Games organizers, to the point where some participating nations are considering withdrawing their athletes unless the problems are rectified immediately. A number of high profile international athletes have already withdrawn, including Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica and tennis stars Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Andy Murray of Great Britain.

The primary dilemma is the state of the athletes’ village, which has been described as “not fit for human habitation”. There are also problems with plumbing, wiring, internet and mobile phone access, as well as reports of excrement found in the village and pools of water under some of the beds.

Other concerns include shoddy construction (a footbridge under construction near the main stadium collapsed on Tuesday), security breaches (two tourists from Taiwan were shot Sunday outside a centuries-old mosque and a car bomb exploded), as well as health issues (a record rainfall this summer has contributed to a dengue fever outbreak, and the athletes’ village is located on the banks of the Yamuna River, where mosquitoes carrying the disease breed).

Still, not all the blame can be put on the Games organizers. The member delegates who voted New Delhi as the host city should have foreseen such problems for a Games hosted by an emerging nation such as India.

Sadly, it’s the athletes who are often the forgotten pawns when Games are awarded and planned. It’s the high-level officials who line their pockets and stay in first-class accommodations during bid meetings and the actual Games, and the athletes — the supposed stars of the show — who are treated like second class citizens.

At the 1997 Francophone Games in Madagascar, one of the poorest nations on Earth, a number of Canadian athletes became ill as a result of unsanitary conditions in the village. Welland boxer Issac Mitchell had to undergo a painful series of rabies shots after being bit by rodent while he was asleep in his dorm — another example of sport officials putting the athletes’ needs last.

What’s particularly galling is that competitions such as the Commonwealth and Francophone Games are a waste of millions of dollars, particularly during difficult economic times. There was a time when second-tier, multi-sport Games were necessary, as they were key meets held in non Olympic years. But now virtually all the major summer sports hold their own world championships and World Cups — competitions that are much more important to athletes than Commonwealth or Francophone Games, which are largely politic exercises designed to placate certain interest groups, such as Monarchist associations and Quebec separatists.

What iexactly is the point of spending millions on Games nobody really cares about when our top Olympic sport athletes barely receive enough to live and train properly?

I talked to a number of athletes prior to the Canadian track and field championships this summer in Toronto and many expressed a deep reluctance to go to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but not so much as a knock against India.

Most elite summer sport athletes peak long before October and the idea of travelling thousands of miles away to compete at largely a second tier competition held little attraction.

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Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at this meeting:

On gloomy Tuesday, a stormy meeting rocks OC office

New Delhi All is not well inside the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee office on Jai Singh Road. With each passing day the meetings are getting stormier as was apparent at an executive board meeting on Tuesday, which ended up as a verbal duel between chairman Suresh Kalmadi and Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper.

Kalmadi demanded an explanation from Hooper on going public with the problems in the Games Village. A day earlier, Hooper had told the media claiming that the Village is not ‘livable’, even as Games Federation president Mike Fennell shot off a letter to the Cabinet Secretary saying the Games village is filthy and a matter of concern.

According to sources, unfazed by Kalmadi’s questioning, Hooper retorted: “Do not raise your voice.” To this Kalmadi replied, “I am not the one who is raising his voice, it is you who is going around complaining.” Kalmadi’s reasoning being that while the Organising Committee and senior Indian bureaucrats were going around fire-fighting, Hooper was calling the Games Village “unlivable and filthy” in front of the media.

Meanwhile, executive board member Vijay Kumar Malhotra sought details of the opening and closing ceremonies. As OC vice-chairman Randhir Singh started giving details of the ceremonies, calling all facilities were world class, Hooper reportedly interjected saying “the truth is completely contradictory”.

At the two-hour meeting, the members also held discussions on who will finally declare the Games open. According to the constitution of the Commonwealth Games, “The Queen or her representative” is on top of the protocol list and is the person who declares the Games open by reading out the message on the baton. While President Pratibha Singh Patil is expected to be present during the opening ceremony of the Games, the executive board could not arrive at a conclusive decision on who will do the honours.

As if the negativity in the room was not enough, Kalmadi received a note informing him about the collapse of the foot overbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which he promptly announced in front of the board. Incidentally, no government representative in the executive board, including Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta and Urban Development

Secretary Naveen Kumar, were present.

Express india

Edited by Sir Rols
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(Reminiscent of the 1996 Olympic Games bid, which were awarded to Atlanta, home of one of the IOC’s major sponsors, Coca-Cola, over cities with superior bids, including Toronto. Atlanta turned out to be one of the worst Games ever).

[...]

Still, not all the blame can be put on the Games organizers. The member delegates who voted New Delhi as the host city should have foreseen such problems for a Games hosted by an emerging nation such as India.

I don't know about that... You see, the text blames Delhi's Games troubles to India's underdevelopment but at the same times calls Atlanta one of the worst games ever... The US weren't a developing country back at 1996 if I remember well.

South Africa is developing and were great hosts of the WC. Brazil is developing and we landed a big PanAms in 2007. Being a developing country is no excuse for poor organization. No country should hide behind that!

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I was going to post this on the ceremonies thread but...oh dear..

Trouble in the air: 50cr aerostat develops snag

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Trouble-in-the-air-50cr-aerostat-develops-snag/Article1-603515.aspx

Much like the collapsing stadiums, which were billed as world class initially, the R 50 crore helium showpiece — aerostat — for the Commonwealth Games ceremonies at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium also developed startling glitches on Wednesday. With 10 days to go to the opening ceremony, the 80m by

40m aerostat — to be used as a three-dimensional stage during the ceremony — has developed a technical snag owing to two balloons within it bursting. This will greatly cripple the lifting capability of the aerostat even as technicians are looking to take remedial steps.

Initially, the aerostat was supposed to rise up to a maximum height of 30 meters but according to sources, in the existing scenario, height is immaterial as the 10m high balloon will wobble the moment it lifts from its base stand. This has been attributed to windy conditions.

"The installation in the first place was not done properly and in the current scenario of rains and windy conditions, the balloon has become highly unstable," revealed an official at the venue.

The aerostat, designed by Mark Fisher of Stufish, had earlier been seen as a wasteful expenditure by many but was deemed necessary on technical grounds.

"The bottom of the balloon has mirror reflectors which help in balancing the general lighting conditions in the stadium," Indu Anand, deputy director of general ceremonies had told media on the day the aerostat was unveiled.

The bigger question though remains as to whether such an expensive showpiece is worth the trouble if it cannot withstand untimely weather turbulences.

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For about the first time ever in my memory, I'm finding the water cooler gossip in the office is inded all about the CWGs today. It really is becoming an issue that everyone's got an opinion on now - and which is being splashed across the front pages of all the major papers here today.

I have been told there's no such thing as bad publicity, but I'm not sure if that's true.

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Some more breaking news from The Delay Shames:

NZ mulls over S'pore as 'base'

WELLINGTON - NEW ZEALAND may keep its Commonwealth Games team penned up in Singapore if the athletes' village in New Delhi remains uninhabitable, a report said on Thursday.(more in this link)

Countries say they have no clue about venue commanders

Foreign missions have now complained that the venue commanders, who are in charge of security at stadiums, are not yet in place. They claimed that in the event of a terrorist attack, the teams do not know whom to contact in the Indian security establishment

Delhi police raise security doubts if athletes shift

Delhi police doubt they could guarantee the security of athletes if they were moved to accommodation away from the Commonwealth Games village.

And these three stories have come out in just the last hour...makes you wonder how stable things are in the eye of this sh!tstorm (or should that be Dikshit Storm?)

And here is a fairly strident comment from the SMH re the games....

Why no team should go to the Delhi Games

Sam Varghese

September 22, 2010 - 4:17PM

India scrambles against the clock to save the Commonwealth Games after some athletes quit the event and nations threaten to stay home.

In India, corruption is a way of life. That quote comes from one of the country's better-known prime ministers, the late Indira Gandhi. She was certainly in a position to speak with confidence, having exploited that very way of life numerous times to grab and keep a hold on power.

Today, if India stands shamed before the world as the mess that is the Commonwealth Games unfolds, it can all be put down to one thing: corruption.

If the athletes' village is not up to standard, mark it down to contractors who have cut corners and used sub-standard construction to maximise their profits.

If bridges and other infrastructure collapse, put it down to the same reason. And as these examples increase, and the Games slowly turns into a fiasco, one needs to ask: where does the corruption end and does it run right to the top?

The recent plea to the media from the chief organiser, Suresh Kalmadi, himself a politician with something of a reputation, seeking a positive spin to make the Games appear a success, is in itself an indication that all is not as it seems.

The media can, perhaps, criticise or give a bad name to an event but it cannot make a blocked toilet acceptable to anyone. That the complaints about the athletes' village have come first from New Zealand speaks volumes — Kiwis are about the most tolerant Westerners I have encountered. If they have cause for complaint, then things must be really bad.

But then why is anyone surprised? Perhaps, because for the past 15 years, as India has grown in economic clout, other countries have been afraid to speak up and point the finger when needed. The stench of corruption has hung over India for a long, long time, but other nations have held their collective tongues for fear of jeopardising lucrative business deals.

All the talk of computerisation of Indian government offices to get rid of shonky practices is just so much eyewash; ultimately, before the big man hits the "enter" key to complete the processing of a document one is waiting for, money has to change hands.

A good outcome this time would be for India to be shamed to such an extent over the Commonwealth Games that the government has no option but to ensure that such a mess never eventuates again. This is wishful thinking but there is no other way that any kind of improvement will ever take place. Corruption is too deeply ingrained in the system; the average punter has to put up with so much from his own system that he is hardly inclined to think of the national interest before his own.

This is not to say that India or Indians cannot run a show efficiently.

The tiffinwallahs of Bombay, the men who deliver home-cooked meals to office workers in that metropolis, are perhaps the best known example of an incredibly well-organised operation, the success of which cannot be analysed using Western methods.

For all the big talk emanating out of New Delhi, the Commonwealth Games have already become a joke. Of course, one could well question whether holding such an event itself is of any relevance, given that the days of the British Raj are well and truly over.

But that's a moot point at the moment. Any country with a modicum of commonsense should pull its team out of the Games. Going there just to enable India to save face will send the wrong message.

Edited by eusebius65
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article-1313907-0B4A4725000005DC-722_634x400.jpg

Recovering: The labourers injured in the Jawaharlal Stadium footbridge collapse are treated for their injuries at the spartan-looking Safdarjung Hospita

Wow. Nice hospital. :blink:

article-1313907-0B493F6C000005DC-307_634x379.jpg

Bog standard: The toilet facilities in the Delhi athletes' village which was criticised by Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland

I see faucets on the wall and a tap, but... where's the tub? :blink:

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The latest from New Zealand www.stuff.co.nz

NZ Games athletes told to delay Delhi travel

New Zealand's Commonwealth Games athletes have been told to delay their arrival in Delhi because the Games Village will not be ready to take them.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee is set to make a decision tomorrow on whether Kiwi athletes ultimately compete at all in Delhi. The delay in when athletes arrive is considered by observers to be "buying decision-making time".

It also allows NZOC President Mike Stanley and Secretary General Bary Maister to return to New Zealand for tomorrow's important board meeting. The pair has been on a 27-hour whistle-stop tour of Delhi.

They are advising athletes to hold off travel to the Indian capital until Tuesday.

The first New Zealand athletes were set to start arriving this weekend with lawn bowls, hockey and badminton first in.

"It is tremendously disappointing" said Stanley on seeing the village for the first time. "The long-list of outstanding issues has made it clear the village will now not be ready for New Zealand athletes to move in as planned."

An Olympian himself, Stanley appreciates the strain the delay will have on athletes.

"We know how hard this must be for athletes and we're continuing to push the CGF and Organising Committee for an urgent resolution, he said. "This is not a matter of comfort or luxury; it's a matter of hygiene and safety."

New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie says he has also advised his operations team to stay out of the village until it was habitable.

"There are still issues with plumbing, wiring and leaks and the maintenance people have no access to our tower while the security process takes place," he said. "We're now looking to move in on the 26th and we need two days to prepare for athletes," he said.

Scotland and Canada have also delayed their first athlete arrivals and discussions continue as teams work together on behalf of their athletes.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee's logistics teams are now working with sports to reschedule flights. The affected sports are women's hockey, badminton and lawn bowls. Officials from bike and athletics are also delayed.

Discussions have taken place with sport high performance teams and management over the past 24 hours.

The first athletes to enter the village under the revised arrivals plan are gymnastics, archery, weightlifting, synchronised swimming and boxing, These sports will remain on scheduled flights which touch down in Delhi on Tuesday.

Lawn bowls, badminton and women's hockey are now scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

CGF president Mike Fennell will be present at a chefs de mission meeting today in Delhi after arriving in India overnight. Currie and chefs from other nations will share their concerns with the president.

Prime Minister John Key offered support yesterday to any Kiwis who followed the lead of some Australian and British athletes and decided not to go.

The New Zealand swimming team is reportedly seeking a "Plan B" should the event be cancelled. The team left overnight (NZ time) for Abu Dhabi, with an official saying another competition was in the pipeline if the Games are cancelled.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper was reported as being unable to give a guarantee the event will proceed.

Asked if he could guarantee the Games would proceed, Hooper told the Sydney Morning Herald last night: ''I don't want to give a response to that and let it be taken out of context. All we are focusing on is getting the work done. There has been progress, but a lot more needs to done before the arrival of the teams [from today] to October 2nd.

''... we are aware of the issues, the Indian government is engaged at the highest levels.''

MORE CONSTRUCTION FAILURE

A footbridge near the main stadium collapsed on Tuesday, injuring 23 construction workers, five seriously. The bridge is intended to carry thousands of people to the stadium.

That was last night followed by the collapse of part of a false ceiling at the weightlifting venue. There were no injuries and Indian Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar dismissed the incident as ''minor''.

''The cables which were to be set up for the data network were placed on the false ceiling and due to the weight of the cables the ceiling fell off,'' Chandrasekhar told website IBNLive.com.

''It's a minor thing and it will be corrected. It's not a matter to be worried about.''

Chandreshekhar also said all Games venues, practice venues and the athletes' village were ready.

Hooper said he had no choice but to accept documentation from the Indian government stating that sporting venues and the athletes' village were safe.

''I'm no expert but if I was in Australia or presumably somewhere else and a government agency has given me a sign-off that a venue has passed all regulatory approvals … then I have to accept their word.''

NERVOUS KIWI ATHLETES

New Zealand Athletes Federation head Rob Nichol said some nervous athletes had privately voiced concerns about security and health issues. Several had raised the idea of pulling out of the Games even if the NZOC said they could safely go.

"We have told them to wait until Friday. If after that they still have concerns then it is up to every individual and every individual sport as to whether they go. I would not be surprised if some don't."

Currie said he was "starting to consider" the chance that the Kiwi team would splinter, with some athletes determined to compete opting to stay in private hotels. That would create new problems, he said.

"How do you secure yourself in the same way that you do in the village? All of the transport systems are based around the village, so how does that work?"

Mr Key again stressed that it was up to the NZOC to decide whether to send a team. "I would love to see the Games go ahead, but if they are to go ahead, from New Zealand's perspective, the conditions have to be safe and sound for our people."

He would support any individual athletes who decided they did not want to go. "I think in the end, they have to make their own decision on whether they feel comfortable or not with the risks involved."

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Another article talking about fallout from Delhi, specifically the delays of teams departing, the possiblity of an alternative swim meet in NZ and some interesting comments by IOC member Dick Pound:

2 teams delay leaving for troubled games in India

By TIM SULLIVAN and STEPHEN WILSON, Associated Press Writers Tim Sullivan And Stephen Wilson, Associated Press Writers

NEW DELHI – The idea sounded good: Put international sports festivals like the Commonwealth Games in countries such as India to broaden the stage for international competitions and encourage economic development.

It had been done before, with the Olympics in China two years ago and the Pan American Games in South America and Cuba in the 1980s and '90s.

This time, it is backfiring. Instead of showing the world that it is a modern, global power, India is being castigated for its lack of preparation.

With barely a week to go before the games begin, frantic last-minute preparations are verging on chaos, international sports officials are furious and the games have become an international embarrassment that could threaten plans for major sporting events in other developing nations.

Scotland and Canada said Wednesday they would delay their departures to New Delhi because of the unfinished athletes' village, and New Zealand followed their lead Thursday.

Earlier, an official with the New Zealand swimming team said international swimming federations could quickly stage an alternative meet if the games were canceled.

The Australian government said Thursday it was sending experts to assess the hygiene conditions in the village and has upgraded its travel advice to alert tourists to possible construction "deficiencies" after a bridge collapsed and the ceiling at a games venue caved in.

Australian media outlets reported Federal Police officers would travel with the team as extra security, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirmed only that "We have boosted the number of officials we have in New Delhi and we have others on standby."

The Times of India summed the problems with a front-page headline: "C'wealth Games India's Shame."

"Irretrievable damage has been done to the country's reputation," said Norris Pritam, an Indian journalist who has covered many Olympics and Asian Games. "India can still pull it off, but I was more hopeful a few weeks ago."

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell headed to New Delhi, seeking emergency talks with the prime minister to discuss the situation, the games' chief executive, Mike Hooper, said Wednesday.

Games organizers have faced a slew of troubles recently, including heavy rains, a citywide outbreak of dengue fever, fears over security after the shooting of two tourists near one of the city's top attractions, and the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at the main stadium, injuring 27 construction workers, five critically. Part of a drop ceiling at the weightlifting venue collapsed Wednesday, officials said.

The athletes' village — a symbolic heart of the games — was still unfinished Wednesday, the eve of its scheduled opening. The home for more than 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories has been called "unfit for human habitation."

Andrew Foster, head of Commonwealth Games England, said Wednesday "the next 24 to 48 hours is the critical time" to determine if the standards of the athletes' village can be raised.

So far, four athletes — including three world champions — have said they won't attend because of health or safety concerns.

Indian government officials insisted they would prove the critics wrong.

Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, told the BBC that the games will be "one of the most successful that the Commonwealth has undertaken." He blamed "the prolonged monsoon" for the problems.

New Delhi, chosen over the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario, as host, has had seven years to prepare, though very little was done until 2008. Armies of workers — often rural villagers making just a few dollars a day — have been deployed across the city in recent weeks to get it ready.

Indian officials have long dismissed international worries over the slow preparations, even though they were more than a year behind schedule. At one point, the sports minister joked that the games were like a stereotypical big chaotic Indian wedding — and that after lots of last-minute efforts everything would turn out fine.

But in recent weeks, as the many problems became more apparent, the Indian media have turned increasingly critical, questioning why the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hadn't done more to reign in mismanagement.

Taking the event to India carried inherent risks.

The trend in recent years among major international sports bodies, such as the International Olympic Committee, is for what organizers call "universality" — spreading major competitions around the world as much as possible, including to developing nations where such events have rarely been held.

Last year, the IOC awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, taking the games to South America for the first time. Africa is now the only continent that hasn't had an Olympics. But South Africa's triumphant hosting of this year's World Cup despite widespread concerns has made it a strong contender for the 2020 Olympics.

"It's part of a desire to keep expanding the range of countries that can host these events," senior Canadian IOC member Dick Pound told The Associated Press. "You know when you do that the risks are much higher. You just hope the sense of national importance for the host country will allow it to focus on what resources are required and get it done. That said, the risks remain."

So what happened in India?

There's no simple answer. Certainly some blame lies with the central government, which only recently began keeping a close watch on preparations. The Indian media is also rife with allegations of widespread corruption.

And some is pure bad luck: New Delhi has had its heaviest monsoons in decades this year.

"There's an awful lot of talent in India," Pound said. "There's no inherent reason why they could not make a national effort to pull it together better than they have — or seem to have."

He also noted that the Commonwealth, unlike the IOC, is at heart a political grouping, so there is pressure to hold some games away from the traditional hosts of Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

"You can't have the same old four or five white countries doing these games all the time," he said.

The IOC and FIFA both have committees which carry out regular and rigorous inspections of preparations for the Olympics and World Cup, something which helps avoid the type of chaos engulfing the games in India.

The IOC had to put heavy pressure on Athens ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics after chronic construction delays and political wrangling put those games at risk.

"We saw what happened in Athens," Pound said. "There's a limit to what you can do if you don't have the national will or there's a domestic conflict between different groups or political parties."

Pound said Kingston, Jamaica, proved when it hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1966 that developing countries can pull it off with the necessary zeal.

The message to India and others, he said, is: "If we're going to do this and occupy a share of the world's stage, we've got to do it properly. If we're not committed to it, we shouldn't do it."

India's troubles have severely dented its hopes of bidding for the 2020 or 2024 Olympics.

"I'm sure it's put that back by at least a decade," Pound said.

The economic impact of staging major global sports events can weigh heavily on host cities and countries.

The Indian government initially pegged the cost of the Commonwealth Games at less than $100 million in 2003, but the figure has skyrocketed, with estimates ranging from $3 billion to more than $10 billion.

Unlike the Olympics or World Cup, the Commonwealth Games do not attract major international sponsors or TV rights fees.

Although China was able to use the Beijing Olympics to highlight how far it has come after decades of isolation, India is falling behind in that quest.

"When you look at China's very monolithic, dictatorial approach, they have a machine where they can make things happen in a very deterministic manner, whereas India is a colorful and chaotic democracy and sometimes things don't quite go as planned," said Gunjan Bagla, founder of Amritt, Inc., a California consulting firm that helps Western companies do business in Asia.

But the games remain deeply important to India's national pride, making it highly unlikely the government will call them off.

"We're absolutely prepared," Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, who is in charge of monitoring the readiness for Singh, told CNN-IBN television Wednesday.

___

Sullivan reported from New Delhi, Wilson from London. Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman and C. Rajshekhar Rao in New Delhi, Chris Lehourites in London and Steve McMorran in Wellington, New Zealand, contributed to this report.

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Now, the American magazine called Foreign Policy (the same publication that has the Tea Party wanting to invade Canada) has an article about the Commonwealth Games preparation, too, and it practically ridicules India because of it.

Foreign Policy: Debacle in New Delhi (2 pages long)

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