LONDON (Reuters) - Leading Commonwealth countries explain their positions following the latest setbacks in preparations for next month’s Games in India.
“We asked the Commonwealth Games federation to ensure that all of the building safety certificates were in place and we were given that reassurance...an incident like this makes us question the integrity and so we now need to have some more reassurance. We need some clarity on exactly what has happened but also that those building safety certificates are credible across all the 17 venues plus all of the training venues,” England Chef de Mission Craig Hunter told Sky.
“I think the honest answer is at this point is no (the Indian government are not doing enough). We are basically running out of time to get our accommodation in a state where we can welcome athletes on Friday.
“It’s a fantastic village and has the real potential to be the best ever...the training venues are superb, the dining room is great...we knew there were lots of challenges, showers not working and all of that, but we believed that could all be turned around.
“We remain optimistic, the great test will be when the first of our athletes arrive. I’m eternally optimistic at this point in time (that the Games will go ahead).”
“We’re working hour by hour in contact with our ground crew, with the organizing committee. We’re working closely to ensure we get the things needed to be done to allow our athletes to move into the village over the next little while,” Martha Deacon, Chef de Mission for Team Canada, told Reuters.
“We are not on the path to pulling out of the Games but trying to move forward and make sure that on our on the ground crew is able to get done what needs to be done for the village to be acceptable.
“There are other significant issues but we’re confident in our security team, our security measures and our planning. Right now our number one priority is that our athletes are healthy and safe and we want to make sure that is the case upon arrival. The village is the number one priority right now.
“We do have concerns,” Tubby Reddy, chief executive of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), told Reuters.
“We had a team comprising our Chef de Mission, the team doctor and an intelligence expert from the government visit Delhi but they have only recently returned, within the last five days, and we are awaiting their report.
“We are looking at taking our team to India and want to make sure that we take the necessary precautions as regards security and the health of our athletes.”
“The athletes village is not in the best possible state in that the areas surrounding the village have not been completed which has resulted in pools of water forming which obviously pose a health risk,” he added.
“We have held the position all along that it is the individual athlete’s prerogative as to whether or not they wish to travel to Delhi and participate in the 2010 Commonwealth Games,” Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief executive Perry Crosswhite said.
“It is a very personal decision and one which athletes must make in consultation with their family and individual support teams.”
New Zealand’s team said the Games’ security was acceptable but had shifted their athletes to another building after finding their accommodation substandard.
“While cleanliness had been a concern for us, further inspection revealed some issues with plumbing, wiring, internet access and mobile phone coverage. We will now be advising sports that the accommodation is less than expected,” Chef de Mission Dave Currie said in a statement.
“While our new tower may be close to being ready, there are large sections of the village that are not yet ready for athlete arrival.”
President of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Arif Hasan said that senior police official Ahmed Mukarram would go to the Indian capital on September 26 for an inspection visit.
“Although we have been assured by the CWG organizing committee that our athletes would be provided top level security and off good arrangements at the athletics village but we have our areas of concern,” Hasan said.
He said media reports about the security issues and lack of facilities at the village had bothered the POA.
“Our contingent is due to leave on September 29 but before that we want to get a briefing from the security officer as well,” he said.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
“The concern surrounding India and Delhi is not unusual,” Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth Games Association secretary-general Brian Lewis told Reuters.
“It is always noticeable when a first world nation considers a country as a third world, there is significant focus on the negative and questions on the capacity of a so-called third world country to successfully host a game.”
“We are not so concerned about the state of readiness,” said Warren Blake, vice-president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association.
“We have gone to Games before, not only in Third World countries, where weeks before the event people were concerned about the state of readiness and when the Games began everything was in place. When we went to Athens (2004 Olympic Games), people were still putting the finishing touches on the venue.
“The Jamaica team will be going. The team has been selected and everything is alright from our standpoint.”
“Uganda’s team cannot and will not go to a country which is not safe or has facilities that may jeopardize the safety of our people,” said Andrew Omalla, spokesman of Uganda Olympic Committee.
“No single team leader would want to bring corpses home, you would rather come back without a single medal but with all your people alive.
“So our advance team is on the ground in New Delhi inspecting everything and will send us a report shortly on the state of affairs for us to make a decision. We will also consult the Ugandan government if it necessitates, before we send off our team.
“In total we are planning to send a team of 91 comprised of 81 athletes and 10 officials.”
“We know there have been some issues, particularly concerning health and we have taken our measures,” said team head Dinos Michaelides.
“We got instructions on protection from malaria.
“We do not have any other information. We got some information on a collapsed bridge and a terrorist incident, but we consider it isolated and that will not change our position on participating or have an impact on the games themselves.”
“We have given the Organising Committee a deadline of this evening to confirm if all venues and the Games Village are fit for purpose,” a statement from the Wales team chiefs said.
“With yesterday’s news of the bridge collapse and now the roof of the weightlifting venue, we have to take a step back and examine how safe it is to bring athletes into this environment.
“The health and safety of our team has always been our top priority — which is why we’ve been so desperate to resolve the issues in the Games Village.”
“Part of the village which we’ve been moved to, which was the latest part to be finished in a real hurry, is in a very poor condition and a poor state of maintenance,” Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland told BBC Radio on Wednesday.
“There have been dogs roaming around the village, the apartments are filthy, there are piles of rubble and right now it’s not fit to receive 6,500 athletes and officials, which is what is due to happen in seven days.
“Scotland is hugely committed to the Commonwealth Games. Our team on the ground will continue to monitor the situation however we will not compromise on areas of athlete health, safety and security.
“We need urgent action from the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Delhi Organising Committee to address these crucial issues.”