South Asia

Delhi Games will meet standard, foreign minister says

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Media captionIndia's foreign minister SM Krishna: "I think we will be able to deliver"

India's foreign minister has told the BBC that the Delhi Commonwealth Games will meet international standards, amid concerns over hygiene and safety.

SM Krishna said India would be "able to deliver" on next month's Games.

His comments came after complaints from several countries and the withdrawal of some athletes amid security concerns.

Mr Krishna said a prolonged monsoon had hampered preparations, but offered reassurance that security would be provided for every athlete and stadium.

"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.

"We will be able to deliver on the Commonwealth Games and it will be one of the most successful Games that the Commonwealth will have undertaken."

When it came to the safety of those taking part, no compromises would be made, Mr Krishna added.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell is due to arrive in Delhi on Thursday for a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the problems the event, which begins on 3 October.

'Critical time'

The event has been plagued by construction delays, allegations of corruption and a dengue fever outbreak in the Indian capital.

On Tuesday, a footbridge under construction collapsed near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium - the main Games venue - injuring 27 workers. On Wednesday, a section of ceiling caved in at the weightlifting venue.

The state of the athletes' village has also come in for criticism, with complaints of flooding, rooms soiled by excrement and stray dogs sleeping on some beds.

And security fears were heightened at the weekend when two tourists were wounded by gunmen on a motorbike near the Jama Masjid mosque.

The Scottish team say they will not travel until the site is "secure". The English and Welsh teams have also yet to make final decisions about taking part, though the first group of 22 English athletes is expected to fly out to Delhi on Thursday.

"I think the next 24 to 48 hours is the critical time which will tell us whether the village, which is where the main problem is now, has got enough accommodation for everybody to come into it," Commonwealth Games England chairman Andrew Foster told the BBC. "It's a situation that hangs on a knife-edge."

Canada will delay sending any athletes until their accommodation is ready.

The CEO of New Zealand swimming, Mike Byrne, told the BBC that two New Zealand officials were in Delhi and would report later on Thursday about the situation. He said he was trying to remain optimistic, but added: "If the unthinkable happens and the Games are cancelled, one of the things we need to look at is if there is another competition we can take part in."

The Delhi Organising Committee (OC) has said the city will be ready in time for the imminent arrival of participants.

Its secretary-general, Lalit Bhanot, said some athletes might pull out because of injury or other reasons, but there would still be "a very good field".

Security fears

BBC Sport's Alex Capstick says the negative publicity has forced a few high-profile athletes to withdraw from the Games, but fears that many more would follow have yet to be borne out.

On Monday, England's Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey pulled out, along with Australia's world champion discus thrower Dani Samuels.

World triple jump champion Idowu said he had concerns over security preparations for the Games, while Ohuruogu and Dobriskey both have injury worries.

English hurdler Natasha Danvers, who will not be competing because of injury, admitted a number of athletes were worried about competing in Delhi amid fears of injury or sickness.

"I think a lot of the athletes already out in the holding camp are afraid, and it's a legitimate feeling," Danvers told BBC Breakfast.

"I spoke to some colleagues this morning and they are worried about bombs, they are worried about being shot - it's just so bizarre to have to think about this at this point."

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 Games in history, with estimates ranging from $3bn to more than $10bn, as organisers attempt to complete work which only began in 2008.

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