South Asia

Commonwealth Games head Fennell says more work needed

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Media captionMichael Fennell: "The massive work that is being done now ought to have been done before"

The president of the Commonwealth Games Federation says "extensive work" still needs to be done to prepare the athletes' village for the opening of the Games on 3 October.

After visiting Games sites in Delhi, Michael Fennell said India had done much to resolve remaining problems.

But he said he was concerned about the safety of athletes and officials.

Competing teams have complained about filthy accommodation and shoddy construction at the sites.

The chaos surrounding the preparations for the Games had done a "lot of damage" to India's international image, Mr Fennell said.

"People are questioning whether we should have come to India," he added.

"I would hope that at the end of all of this, India would have learned a great lesson, and we also would have learned a great lesson working with a country like India," the head of the Games said.

All 71 countries will take full part in the Games, he said.

The build-up to the event has been marred by construction delays, corruption scandals, a dengue fever outbreak, the collapse of a footbridge near the main stadium and security fears.

The first English athletes - the men's hockey and the bowls teams - arrived in Delhi on Friday, although they plan to stay in hotels until Monday, when the athletes village should be ready.

Several other participating countries have delayed their planned arrival to allow problems to be resolved, after officials earlier in the week described the conditions in the village as uninhabitable.

Indian Prime Minister Prime Manmohan Singh had held an emergency meeting about the Games on Thursday night. He was reviewing preparations with senior ministers, an official in his office said on Saturday.

Ticket sales for the event in New Delhi have been low, and the cost of hosting the largest sporting event in India's history has soared.

It has become most expensive Commonwealth Games so far, with estimates ranging up to more than $10bn (£6.3bn).

Delhi has had seven years to prepare, though very little work was done until 2008.

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