20 Sep 2010

Government won't stop athletes from going to Games

8:31 pm on 20 September 2010

Prime Minister John Key says the Government will not stop New Zealand's Commonwealth Games team from going to Delhi.

Police in India are playing down the significance of an attack that injured two Taiwanese tourists, one of whom suffered a serious stomach wound, while Commonwealth Games organisers said the shooting would have no impact on the event.

Chief organiser Suresh Kalmadi said the attack outside Delhi's main mosque on Sunday was a one-off incident not targeted at the Games, and all security measures for the athletes and tourists have been well taken care of.

Mr Kalmadi said all 71 participating countries and territories mainly from the former British empire are satisfied with security arrangements, AFP reports.

New Zealand Olympic Committee officials are seeking more information about the shooting, while chef de mission Dave Currie is doing final checks on security and facilities in Delhi.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government has been assessing the situation and providing the NZOC with unfiltered advice about the security risks from its own sources and from partners including Australia and the United Kingdom.

Mr Key said the NZOC needs to make a decision by Friday. The Games begin on 3 October.

An Islamist group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.

However, a police spokesperson in India said the claim was unreliable, as the attack was carried out in what he calls an "unprofessional and crude manner" and was likely to have been the work of a "disgruntled gang of criminals."

No reason to spurn Games - federation

New Zealand's Athletes Federation is waiting for assurances about the safety of competitors at the Games but says at this stage there is no reason to change plans, despite the attack.

The federation's Rob Nichol told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme on Monday it is too soon to say whether athletes should go and they are relying on NZOC officials assessing the situation.

Mr Nichol said the athletes are sitting with the option of not going, or of putting an awful lot of faith in the assessment of the New Zealand Government and the NZOC.

He said the attack is certainly of concern, but it was important to have some faith in the processes around the security of the Games.

Valerie Adams says she'll go

New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams said the attack on the tourist bus will not stop her from going to the Commonwealth Games.

The Olympic and world shot put champion said she intends to defend her Commonwealth title, although she will be guided by officials and her manager Nick Cowan.

Adams said she intended to stay right through the Games to support other members of the team.

Australia upgrades travel advice

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advice for India on Monday.

Officials warn of a high risk of terrorist attack in Delhi and said Australians should pay close attention to their personal security at all times.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it is seeking further information on the shooting before making any decisions on whether to change its travel advice.