23 Sep 2010

India's PM calls emergency meeting over Games

10:13 pm on 23 September 2010

India's Prime Minister has convened an emergency meeting to discuss the Commonwealth Games, as pressure mounts on the country to deal with concerns over security and poor facilities at the Games Village.

New Zealand is the latest country, after Canada and Scotland, to delay the arrival of its athletes in Delhi for the event which begins on 3 October. Some athletes have already withdrawn.

The Games have been plagued by security concerns, construction problems, issues with facilities including athletes' accommodation at the Games Village, allegations of corruption and an outbreak of dengue fever.

Officials from New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland and Wales say they will withdraw their athletes if their concerns are not met.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has summoned his sports and development ministers for an emergency meeting.

Mr Singh has yet to grant a meeting to Commonwealth Games Federation president

Michael Fennell who has flown in to oversee preparations in Delhi, the ABC reports.

The government has now reportedly taken the reins from the organising committee, sidelining Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi.

Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit visited the Games Village for several hours on Thursday.

Reporters have been kept out, but inside more than 1000 labourers are said to be struggling to get the accommodation up to scratch.

Deadline for Games organisers

Team officials from several countries on Thursday gave the Commonwealth Games organisers 48 hours to save the event.

Foreign Minister S M Krishna says India is taking the concerns very seriously and insists the venues and athletes' village will be ready on time.

On Wednesday part of a ceiling at the weightlifting venue broke off, a day after a footbridge to the main stadium collapsed.

Reports critical

The problems in Delhi are front page news in the Indian media.

A headline in The Times of India read 'Commonwealth Games India's Shame'.

The newspaper said India has been shamed globally by politicians and officials who have been exposed as callous and inept, and possibly corrupt.

The Indian Express described the structural collapses as a double whammy of embarrassment and humiliation.