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Race to finish Delhi Games venues

Indian workers are racing to finish preparations for the Commonwealth Games as hundreds of athletes and team officials arrived in Delhi and the city's chief minister said she was confident they would complete the job ahead of the event's opening on Sunday.

India has come under harsh criticism for the state of the athletes' village, including complaints about filthy conditions, infrastructure problems and even a snake found in the room of a South African competitor over the weekend. Another snake, a 4-foot cobra, was reportedly found at the tennis stadium.

The games village was supposed to be ready last week, but many teams have delayed moving in because cleaning and repair work have not been finished.

New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who took charge of the work last week, has been seen travelling around the village in a golf cart in recent days to personally inspect the work.

"We inherited a very difficult situation, but it's improving almost by the hour," she said. "We are racing against time, no doubt about it, but we will perform."

Several team officials said conditions in the village had improved dramatically.

"A lot of work has taken place over the last few days. I am relatively satisfied," said Mike Summers, head of the Falkland Islands delegation. His 15-member team will arrive in the city and move in to the village on Tuesday, he said.

Juliet Acon, a Ugandan official, said her nation's delegation had been forced to live in hotels for a few days until their rooms were ready on Saturday. "So far, so good," she said.

Kenyan shot putter Agnes Flora Oluoch said her team's rooms were in good condition, but she and her fellow athletes had yet to receive keys, forcing them to leave their doors unlocked.

The multi-sport games, held every four years, bring together nearly 7,000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories from across the former British empire. The games were meant to cement India's reputation as a growing regional power. Instead, its image has been battered by negative publicity over an event it knew it was hosting seven years ago.


From Belfast Telegraph