South Asia

New Zealand adds to India's Commonwealth Games woes

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Media captionSanjoy Majumder looks at the frantic preparations taking place in Delhi

India is facing rising pressure to deal with concerns over poor facilities and security at the Commonwealth Games.

New Zealand has joined Canada and Scotland in delaying its team's arrival for the event, which begins on 3 October - although Scotland says it is optimistic its athletes will take part.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is meeting senior ministers to discuss progress on tackling the issues.

Organisers insist the Games will go ahead as planned.

Urban development minister Jaipal Reddy told the BBC that the media had exaggerated the problems and that the operation was running smoothly.

"There are no doubt some grievances in regard to the standards of maintenance of toilets in the Commonwealth Games village - other than this, there are no other problems at all," he said.

But foreign delegates in the capital are urgently checking facilities and arrangements for security, and two athletes have pulled out citing safety concerns.

The athletes' village, which will house some 7,000 participants, is due to be open to guests on Thursday, but it is still unfinished.

The BBC has obtained pictures from inside the village showing flooding, leaking toilets, dirty bathrooms, incomplete apartments and animal paw prints on beds.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Delhi says that 1,000 extra people have been sent into the village to clear things up, but that time is running out.

Concerns have also been raised about the state of the sporting arenas, after a small section of ceiling at the weightlifting venue fell in and a pedestrian bridge at the main stadium collapsed, injuring 27 construction workers.

Security fears increased after the shooting of two tourists near one of the city's top tourist attractions over the weekend.


Mr Singh is meeting ministers involved in the Games on Thursday. A spokesman for his office told the AFP news agency the Games would be "the only point of discussion on the agenda".

Games chief Michael Fennell is due to arrive in Delhi on Thursday, and is believed to have requested a meeting with Mr Singh, who took charge of the event last month.

The chief executive of the Games, Mike Hooper, said there had been improvements every day in the state of the facilities but that there was still more work to do.

"Everybody wants to make this work, and everyone is working together to make this happen," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Most teams - including England, Wales, Nigeria and South Africa - say they have no plans to reschedule or cancel their arrival in Delhi.

But several other nations have expressed their concern about the city's readiness to cope with the influx of visitors.

Indian 'indifference'

The president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), Mike Stanley said the conditions are "tremendously disappointing", and that his country may not send its athletes to the Games until 28 September.

"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," he said.

Canadian official Andrew Pipe said he was "cautiously optimistic" progress was being made, but said the "indifference" of Indian officials was "incomprehensible".

Scotland put back the departure of its first delegation of athletes but Sports Minister Shona Robinson says she has "growing confidence" that the team will take part in the Games.

Australia's world discus champion Dani Samuels and English world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu have both pulled out of the Games, saying they were concerned for their safety.

Ticket sales have been low, and the cost of hosting the largest sporting event in the country's history has soared, making it the most expensive Commonwealth Games so far.

Estimates on the cost range from $3bn (£1.9bn) to more than $10bn (£6.4bn), as organisers attempt to complete work which began in 2008.

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