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Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Tuesday, 21 September 2010 16:35 UK

England and Scotland raise doubts over Commonwealths

Security at Delhi 2010
Tight security around the site has slowed building work

Scotland and England are concerned that the poor quality of the athletes' village in Delhi may put the entire Commonwealth Games in doubt.

Scottish officials claimed their original accommodation was "unsafe and unfit for human habitation".

England are "optimistic" they will compete but say urgent work is needed before the Games begin on 3 October.

Defiant organising committee secretary-general Lalit Bhanot insisted: "The situation is under control."

He continued: "We are aware of the concern show by some members who are here in connection with the participation in next month's Commonwealth Games. We are confident that when the teams arrive on the evening of 23 September, the residential wing will be clean.

"We have started work in the 32 (residential) towers and will complete it before the arrival of the athletes. In fact, we have cleaned apartments in more than 60% of the towers."

Bhanot explained: "Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards while we have different standards."

But he stressed that workers have been instructed to deliver Western standards of hygiene.

He added: "We have developed a world class village, with a great international zone, excellent sports facilities that are hardly provided in Games Villages elsewhere and a superb dining hall.

"The venues are in the best of condition to conduct the Games and the issues around the Village will not affect the Games."

It's going to be extremely hard to get across the line

New Zealand team manager David Currie

Welsh officials said that they are content with their headquarters despite claims that dogs were discovered on beds designated for their team.

"Our colleagues from Wales tell us that they had two dogs sleeping actually on the duvets which have been designed for the athletes," England's chef de mission Craig Hunter told BBC Hindi.

"Then the dogs jumped off the bed and went into the shower unit for the toilet and jumped back on to the bed."

Northern Ireland's first representatives are leaving for India on Tuesday and have lined up alternative accommodation in case their scheduled quarters are not ready.

Building works have fallen well behind schedule in the build-up to the Games and Thursday's official opening of the village to 7,000 athletes and officials now looms large. Safety fears were heightened after at least 23 people were injured as a pedestrian bridge collapsed near the event's main stadium on Tuesday.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell, who has written to the Indian government expressing his concern over progress, has warned that security around the site has delayed improvements.

"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 20 September, the Commonwealth Games Village is seriously compromised," Fennell said.

However Randhir Singh, vice-president of the event's organising committee, is confident that the village will be delivered as promised.

"There were some flats that the labour force was working on and they had dirtied certain other flats," stated Singh.

Mike Hooper, CEO Commonwealth Games Federation: "The word filthy is almost generous"

"They will be looked into and I'm sure there will be no problem. We still have two days for the teams to come and the situation will be under control."

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said it would be "an utter tragedy" if the Games did not go ahead, although he remained confident all the issues and problems could be resolved and the event would start on time.

Scotland have claimed that the accommodation they were allocated on arrival was unfinished but that they encountered problems even after being moved to a completed section.

Team officials, with the help of Games volunteers, cleaned the seven-storey building themselves to bring conditions up to an acceptable standard.

"We now have grave concerns as to whether the village as a whole will meet the health and safety standards required," read a statement.

Scotland have called on the Commonwealth Games Federation "to make a realistic decision as to at what point and under what conditions... the Games will be able to go ahead should the village issues not be resolved".

India's monsoon weather has revealed new plumbing and electrical problems ahead of the arrival of England's first athletes on Thursday.

"Commonwealth Games England remains optimistic that England participation at the Games can go ahead," read a statement.

"However there is a lot still to be done in the Village and this needs to be done with some urgency."

Wales have previously lodged a formal complaint over conditions in the village. However, chef de mission Chris Jenkins is now confident his team's accommodation is on track.

"It's in a good state now: it's clean, the plumbing's working, the wiring's working, the electric is working, the air conditioning works, the medical clinic is pretty much set up," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"They should be able to do it, they have enough time but time is running out, they've got to start now on these towers."

New Zealand team manager David Currie was less optimistic.

He has found alternative rooms for his country's 300-strong contingent of athletes and officials and believes the whole event may be in danger.

"If the village is not ready and athletes can't come, obviously the implications of that are that it's not going to happen," Currie told New Zealand radio network Newstalk ZB.

"Unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, it's going to be extremely hard to get across the line."

However, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key played down the implications of Currie's downbeat assessment.

"I think he was just reflecting the frustrations we had expressed to us overnight," Key stated.

"I wouldn't say that means the Commonwealth Games would be off. It's unlikely that New Zealand would make a call [to pull out] that other countries weren't prepared to make."

Australia and Canada are the other two teams to have set up camp in Delhi at the earliest opportunity.

Australia's chef de mission Steve Moneghetti said his officials "didn't seem that concerned about the overall condition of the village" but claimed organisers "have got two days to do what's probably going to take about two weeks".

Meanwhile, Australia's world champion discus thrower Dani Samuels, 22, has pulled out of the Games because of concerns over safety, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Heptathlete Kelly Sotherton, who is not representing England because of a back injury, told her Twitter followers said she was relieved not to be going.

"It's enough to worry about performing but worry where you sleep and walk is another thing," she wrote.

One boost for Games organisers came with confirmation that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Earlier this year, the Queen asked Prince Charles to represent her at the opening in New Delhi.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend time with athletes from a broad cross section of Commonwealth countries. Prince Charles will also give a speech at the opening ceremony.

The Games are due to be covered extensively by the BBC.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are following current developments closely regarding the Commonwealth Games. All our planning and preparation is continuing as normal."

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see also
English trio out of Commonwealths
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
India vows to fix Games village
21 Sep 10 |  South Asia
Games bosses clean accommodation
21 Sep 10 |  Scotland
Aussie Samuels out of Delhi Games
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Medallist will trust Delhi advice
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
NI monitor Delhi village concerns
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Team Jersey delay Delhi departure
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
India admits 2010 Games problems
15 Sep 09 |  South Asia
Commonwealth Games 'in jeopardy'
12 Nov 08 |  South Asia

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