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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Thursday, 23 September 2010 08:51 UK

Photographs expose athletes' village concerns in Delhi

The poor conditions at the athletes' vilalge
The state of the athletes' village has caused concern among participating nations

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The full extent of the poor conditions at the Commonwealth Games athletes' village in India has been exposed in photographs seen by BBC Sport.

The pictures, taken in the last two days, show dirty bathrooms, animal footprints on beds, exposed wiring and flooding outside the buildings.

The first England athletes leave for Delhi on Thursday as organisers race to get the Games ready for 3 October.

Wales and Northern Ireland will fly their athletes out as scheduled.

Delhi's organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi insists progress has been made in cleaning up the athletes' accommodation and they are ready to receive the 7,000 visitors to the 32 tower blocks.

An Indian contingent of more than 120 athletes is expected to check into the village on Thursday evening, with the first overseas teams expected on Friday.

"I am happy with the progress," he said. "We believe there will be no serious complaints anymore. And we believe that no teams will pull out of the Games."

Scotland, Canada and New Zealand have delayed their departures, although Scottish sports minister Shona Robison has said there is a "growing confidence" that the country's athletes will go.

And Team Scotland's chef de mission Jon Doig has welcomed Thursday's assurances from the Indian government that the accommodation will be fixed and that safety certificates for the village and venues are in place.

"We are heartened that Sheila Dikshit [Delhi government's chief minister] has personally taken control of the situation, ensuring that the necessary additional resources are brought in, including support from the Delhi hoteliers association to address standards of cleanliness and hygiene and oversee quality control," said Doig.

"We have continued to make progress addressing the maintenance and operational issues within our own accommodation block and things are looking much better.

"Therefore subject to a number of assurances from the Organising Committee being realised over the next 24 hours, we feel we will be in a position to confirm [on Friday] that our team will travel as scheduled on Saturday."

The Welsh team is due to start flying out to Delhi on Satuday 25 September while Northern Ireland are planning to send their team on Monday 27 September.

Concerns over stadium safety, security and conditions in the village have hit the build-up to the 3-14 October event and these pictures will give further worries to team organisers and athletes who will arrive in the Indian capital in the next seven days.

Sir Matthew Pinsent, who won four Olympic gold medals in rowing for Great Britain and is going to Delhi as part of the BBC commentary team, questioned the future of the Games.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "What groups the Commonwealth together anymore? It used to be the Empire Games and as time goes on you get further away from independence.

"If the numbers of athletes are going up and its getting more and more expensive and difficult for host cities, does it carry on, does it have a big future?"

Pinsent also believes the Delhi organising committee have only themselves to blame for the mess they find themselves in.

"I realise they've had issues with the weather, but it looks disastrous from the photos I saw on the BBC Sport website," said Pinsent. "There's only going to be one story we're all covering.

"[They have had] seven years notice, but [they did] nothing for four years and then put the hurry up on.

"[If you] then struggle with the weather and the rain is lashing down and you're trying to lay bricks and set concrete, it's not going to set."

In the last week, two Taiwanese tourists were injured after gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a bus in Delhi, a pedestrian footbridge to the centrepiece Jawaharlal Nehru stadium has collapsed, injuring 23 people, and part of a false ceiling at a weightlifting sports venue fell down.

David Bond's Blog

Several big-name athletes have already pulled out of the Games, with England's world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu and Australia's discus world champion Dani Samuels withdrawing earlier this week over health and security concerns.

On Thursday, New Zealand became the third major nation to announce they would not be sending athletes as scheduled to Delhi.

The president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), Mike Stanley, said: "It's tremendously disappointing. The long list of outstanding issues has made it clear the village will now not be ready for New Zealand athletes to move in as planned."

India's Foreign Minister SM Krishna has attempted to allay fears over hygiene and safety, while Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell arrived in Delhi on Thursday for a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the problems.

"Let me assure you on behalf of the government of India and the people of India that we will see to it that the Commonwealth Games are conducted according to international standards, and the athletes who come to participate in these games will feel quite happy about their conditions," Krishna told the BBC.

A sink in a bathroom at the athletes' village
A dirty sink in a bathroom at the athletes' village

Team England's chef de mission Craig Hunter is optimistic the problems will come together at the last minute "like an Indian wedding".

"We looked in some towers where, even [on Thursday], with countries supposed to be moving in, there's no plaster on the walls, they are deep in water and extremely uninhabitable and quite dangerous in many respects," he stated.

"We are in good shape, but what we are demanding is that all nations are treated equally.

"I've always said this event will be like an Indian wedding and it will be ready just before the bride arrives.

"The amount of rain that can fall in a very short space of time is quite incredible and at times we are waterlogged.

"Now we're really struggling and having jokes about how we're going to surf down from our accommodation to the dining room because there's so much water."

England's world champion teenage diver Tom Daley has confirmed he will be going to the Games unless told otherwise by team officials.

The 16-year-old, who won the 10m platform world title in Rome last year, said: "As long as England are going then I'll be going.

"As long as they are sending a team I am willing to go because I trust them and I really want to compete in the Commonwealth Games. The only thing I can do now is concentrate on my preparation."

Diver Daley positive about Games

And England hockey player James Tindall told BBC Radio 5 live: "I haven't got any concerns or worries about going to India.

"We've been [to India] for the World Cup earlier in the year. We enjoyed it and were happy with the security.

"The village may be an unknown to us but they've got enough time to the start of the Games."

Delhi has had seven years to prepare for the Games but the majority of work only began in 2008.

Ticket sales have been disappointing, and the cost of hosting the largest sporting event in the country's history has soared, making it the most expensive Commonwealth Games in history, with estimates ranging from $3bn (£1.9bn) to more than $10bn (£6.3bn).



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see also
Athletes' village photos
23 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Q&A: India's Commonwealth Games crisis
24 Sep 10 |  South Asia
Wales green light for Games trip
23 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
'Growing confidence' over Games
23 Sep 10 |  Scotland
England to stick with Games plans
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
NZ adds to India's Games pressure
23 Sep 10 |  South Asia
India Games 'will meet standard'
23 Sep 10 |  South Asia
Aussie Samuels out of Delhi Games
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
English trio out of Commonwealths
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
British teams raise Delhi doubts
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Team Jersey delay Delhi departure
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Delhi Games bridge collapse
21 Sep 10 |  South Asia


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