CWG in trouble; England, Wales set deadline

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2010, 18:14 PM IST

London: Commonwealth Games plunged into deep
trouble on Wednesday after England admitted their participation is
"on a knife-edge" while Scotland athletes delayed their
departure to Delhi and Wales set a deadline of Wednesday
evening for the organisers to certify all venues and Games
Village are safe.

A footbridge collapsed near the main venue of the Games
yesterday, which injured more than a dozen people, and the
desperate state of the Athletes` Village -- described bu
Commonwealth officials of some countries as "unfit for human
habitation" -- has cast major doubts over foreign athletes
turning up in India.

And now the collapse of a small portion of a false
ceiling at the weightlifting arena added to the gloom
surrounding the event.

Commonwealth Games England chairman Sir Andrew Foster
admitted that they will have to make a quick decision --
within 24 to 48 hours -- on whether to take part in the Games.

"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. I think we`re at an absolutely
vital time (regarding) whether the major teams go," Foster
said.

"Our staff have been round all 17 sports venues and they
are in good order, so the key remaining feature which there`s
a problem with is the village. The other problems have been
resolved. It`s a situation that hangs on a knife-edge. It is
not certain and we will not be sending our team unless we are
confident," he said.

Foster, however, was still hopeful that the Indian
government and the organising committee would be able to save
the Games even though at this late hour.

"The village still has a lot of remedial work needing to
be done. But it is the case in India, when building projects
are coming to a conclusion, that that is a typical way that
things happen and that is quite a big cultural difference.”

`The safety of the athletes has to be our primary
concern. But equally, we cannot just respond to that alone, we
have to evaluate the whole thing together and that is what we
are doing.`

Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Michael Cavanagh
said that the first party of 41 athletes and staff in boxing,
rugby sevens and wrestling will now not be travelling tomorrow
as planned.

"By delaying the arrival of our athletes by a few days,
we hope to give the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee the
necessary time to address the concerns that have been raised
by both the Commonwealth Games Federation and the countries
which arrived early," Cavanagh said.

"We have discussed this with the sports involved and are
in agreement that this is the best course of action under the
circumstances. Whilst this is an untimely alteration to their
plans, it will ultimately cause less disruption to their final
training and preparation than if they were to arrive in the
Games Village which is not yet fit for purpose and fully
functional.

"Scotland is hugely committed to the Commonwealth Games.
Our team on the ground will continue to monitor the situation,
however we will not compromise on areas of athlete health,
safety and security. We need urgent action from the
Commonwealth Games Federation and the Delhi Organising
Committee to address these crucial issues," he said.

Wales are also considering their options after giving the
Games organising committee a deadline of Wednesday evening to
confirm if all venues and the Village are fit for purpose.

A Team Wales statement read, "The health and safety of
our team has always been our top priority - which is why we`ve
been so desperate to resolve the issues in the Games Village.
With yesterday`s news of the bridge collapse and now the roof
of the weightlifting venue, we have to take a step back and
examine how safe it is to bring athletes into this
environment.”

"We have given the Organising Committee a deadline of
this evening to confirm if all venues and the Games Village
are fit for purpose. On the basis of that announcement, we
will be contacting athletes via our team managers and advise
them of the latest position and will issue a further update."

PTI