UnNews:Photographs expose athletes' village shambles in Delhi
23 September 2010
DELHI, India -- The full extent of the wretched conditions at the Commonwealth Games athletes' village in India has been exposed in photographs. The pictures, taken in the last two days, show abandoned construction sites, dirty bathrooms, animal footprints on beds, exposed wiring and flooding both inside and outside the buildings. It appears to be a complete shambles and Games organizers are shocked.
England is due to send 22 athletes to Delhi on Thursday as organizers race to get the Games ready for 3 October. Scotland, Canada and New Zealand have already delayed their departures pending complete cancellation. And most other countries weren’t coming in the first place. Northern Ireland is also canceling the plan to send their team on Monday, 27 September as scheduled.
Wales team manager Brian Davies has said that there is no way his team can reside in such slum conditions, and that plans to change everything were firm at present. “We should have known from the outset this would be the case! I mean, India! Whose bright idea was this anyway?” Davies questioned. Concerns over the stadium’s non-existence, plus the thorny issue of having no security or sit-down toilets or furniture in the village have scared all the foreign athletes, who had no idea about India’s unique cultural standards.
On the 3-14 October event Davies says that the pictures give immense worries to team organizers and athletes who will definitely not arrive in the Indian capital in the next seven days. “The only place worse than India, is Kolkutta, Calcutta, or whatever; wait, Calcutta’s in India too.” Davies lamented.
In the last week, twenty-two Taiwanese athletes were injured after gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a bus in Delhi, a pedestrian footbridge to the invisible centre-piece Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium has collapsed, injuring 23 people, and a false ceiling at a weightlifting sports venue fell down killing 321 slave laborers from Bangladesh.
Delhi may yet surprise us. No major event enjoys a smooth build-up with no problem. “But this does feel different.” Davies stated. “After all, it is India!” But all 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 comfort, health and security concerns.
On Thursday, New Zealand became the 13th 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 any athletes to move in as planned."
India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna has attempted to allay fears over hygiene and safety, while Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell is due to arrive in New 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 Indian standards; and the athletes who come will just have to get used to it. We Indians feel quite happy about these conditions," Krishna told the BBC.
However, Team England's chef de mission Craig Hunter is pessimistic the problems will come together at the last minute ‘like an Indian wedding’. "We looked in some towers where, even [on Thursday], countries are supposed to be moving in, there's no 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 like normal human beings, not slum dogs.”
Delhi has had several hundred years to prepare for the Games but the majority of work only began in Jan. 2010.
- Staff "Photographs expose athletes' village concerns in Delhi" BBC News, September 23, 2010