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Delhi 'sorry' as Commonwealth Games crisis looms

The organising committee of the already ill-fated games apologises for the ‘collective failure’ over living conditions.

A photograph seen by the BBC showing some of the bathroom conditions just nine days before the Commonwealth Games begin.
A photograph seen by the BBC showing some of the bathroom conditions just nine days before the Commonwealth Games begin.
Image: BBC

THE ORGANISING COMMITTEE of the Commonwealth Games has been forced into an embarrassing apology over the standard of accommodation in the athletes’ village, which remains unfinished just nine days before the games begin.

The committee’s treasurer AK Mattoo has apologised to all parties for “whatever has happened and would like to apologise not only on the part of the OC but everybody else who is committed. This is a collective failure.”

The apology comes as news agencies publish leaked photographs of horrific conditions inside the village depicting muddy animal pawprints on mattresses, puddles and mould in the living areas, and apparently “finished” bathrooms covered in muck and sewage leaks – not helped by torrential monsoon rains in the area.

The games have already been blighted by last-minute rushed preparations, and the collapse of a footbridge yesterday injuring 27, and of a false ceiling in the custom-built weightlifting venue.

A number of the nations taking part in the games – including Canada and New Zealand – have now decided to delay their travel to Delhi until they receive assurances about the living conditions, and also over ongoing security fears ahead of the opening ceremony.

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has affirmed her country’s desire to attend the games, but the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell, has travelled to meet with India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the organisational problems.

Scotland, England and Northern Ireland have all already expressed anxiousness about participation, though 22 English athletes have already travelled to Delhi ahead of the games.

The Guardian reports a poll in the Hindustan Times newspaper, suggesting that 68% of Delhi locals believe the games have become a source of shame. Only 40% said they would actually watch the games as a result.

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