21 Sep 2010

Serious delay looms for start of Delhi Games

9:42 pm on 21 September 2010

The Commonwealth Games in Delhi could be facing a serious delay to its start date, as the head of the Games federation expresses grave concern about the state of the athletes' village.

The village is due to open on Thursday, but Michael Fennell says many matters remain unresolved since delegates visited the residential zone on 15 September, and he has written to the Indian government.

New Zealand's chef de mission Dave Currie has visited the athletes' accommodation and says it's hard to see how the Games can start on 3 October.

He told the BBC the Commonwealth Games Association must sort out the problems.

Mr Currie says athletes should still plan to come to Delhi even though the village is not yet ready.

Earlier, the New Zealand Olympic Committee said the allocated accommodation for athletes at the Games village was unliveable, and it had been forced to find alternative quarters.

Mr Currie said the new accommodation was better but still needed plenty of work.

Mr Currie said builders had been living in the apartments allocated to New Zealand, and as well as hygiene concerns there were also problems with plumbing, wiring, internet access and mobile phone coverage.

He would not say whether New Zealand has issued a deadline for the athletes' accommodation to be ready.

The first New Zealand athletes are due to arrive in Delhi on Saturday, but delaying their arrival may be an option in view of the fact the Games do not begin until 4 October, giving some room to delay arrivals - assuming flight changes can be made.

Delays in finishing the village and venues have also postponed a security sweep.

The New Zealand delegation will also seek further information on Sunday's shooting of two Taiwanese nationals and clarification of reports on Monday that Australian reporters had breached stadium security.