Commonwealth Games will proceed, but concerns remain
England's Commonwealth Games team lost another two volunteers yesterday but last night they declared victory in their battle to send a squad of athletes into competitive action in Delhi at the end of next week.
After Ian Stannard and Ben Swift joined fellow cyclists Geraint Thomas of Wales and Peter Kennaugh of the Isle of Man in withdrawing from the quadrennial sporting event because of health concerns, officials announced that England would be travelling with a full complement of sports.
The news came as the first wave of English athletes, the lawn bowls team and the hockey squad, departed for Delhi last night
It followed strong indications earlier in the day that Scotland and Wales would also be giving the green light, both having been “heartened” by reassurances over safety and improvements at the athletes' village.
The England team management said in a statement: “Commonwealth Games England and its 17 member sports today unanimously agreed that they will go to the Delhi Games.
“CGE's chef de mission, Craig Hunter, and our team in Delhi, are now seeing the improved levels of resourcing which are required to resolve the significant operational issues, but we will continue to monitor the situation daily to ensure the village and stadia are safe and fit for purpose.
“The board continues to press the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games Federation for assurances on both the stadia and the accommodation as well as liaising with the British Government. At all times the safety and security of our team is paramount.”
The Games organisers claimed last night that the athletes' village was in “good condition” as the first 120 members of the Indian team moved in.
Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Organising Committee, said that he expected all the teams to take part.
The four British cyclists, all members of Team Sky, added their names to the growing list of individual withdrawals from the Games. Kennaugh and Thomas said their concern was catching the mosquito-borne illness Dengue fever.
There were reports yesterday that two Indian cyclists had contracted it after training in Delhi.
“Dengue has been a major concern,” said Graham Seers, India's cycling coach.
The first wave of England's more than 500-strong squad departed for India last night as they had always been scheduled to.
They will stay in hotel accommodation until the urgent clean-up operation in the village is completed.