Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Games facilities 'need more work'

This bridge collapsed near Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in New Delhi, India

A lot of work has been done in recent days to get facilities ready for the Commonwealth Games in India, but much more work is needed with the international sporting event starting in just over a week, the head of the Commonwealth Games has said.

With criticism of the filthy athletes' village and other infrastructure problems escalating over the past week - and some teams threatening a possible pullout - Indian officials sent hundreds or extra workers to get the facilities in shape before the game.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell, who rushed to India this week to deal with the problems, told reporters that significant work had been done in recent days.

"There's still a lot of work to be done, to do the final touches, and there's more work in the village. It's not over yet," he said.

Regardless of the ongoing concerns, the first foreign competitors - the English hockey and lawn bowling teams - arrived on Friday. Although they will stay in hotels before moving to the village, their arrival eased concerns about a mass pullout that could threaten the event, scheduled to start on October 3.

New Zealand and Australia, both harsh critics of India's preparations, also said their athletes would attend.

"I am very happy that today we are recording that there will be full participation in the games," Fennell said.

India's image has been battered for days by negative publicity over its last-minute, frantic preparations for the Olympic-style competition that brings together about 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories. The prime minister and New Delhi's mayor got involved to deal with the dirty games' village, dangerous construction, swarms of disease-carrying mosquitoes and security fears.

Chris Jenkins, Wales' chef de mission, said it was clear that in the last few days far more resources were brought to bear to finish the preparations. "Over the last 48, 72 hours things have improved appreciably," he said.

City officials deployed as many as 1,000 mop- and bucket-carrying workers to clean the village and make repairs. Hundreds more workers were scattered across the city, doing everything from painting lines on roads and laying fresh grass in front of officials' houses to spraying mosquitoes. Police roadblocks and teams of soldiers with assault rifles have become commonplace.

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