23 Sep 2010

NZ team's boss loses faith in Games organisers

10:29 pm on 23 September 2010

The head of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team says he has lost all faith in organisers of the Delhi Games and the Commonwealth Games Federation.

The New Zealand team has delayed the arrival of its athletes because the Games Village still is not complete, with pluming and wiring problems and water leaks.

The growing list of problems also includes fears of dengue fever, a broken ceiling at the weightlifting venue and a collapsed footbridge near the main stadium.

New Zealand's chef de mission Dave Currie has described the athletes' accommodation as uninhabitable and says he has continually raised the matter with the federation and Delhi organisers, but nothing gets done.

Mr Currie says the organisers have refused to accept there are problems, but hopes that will change over the next few days after Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit became involved.

"It may well be there's enough people to do things. At the moment, they're running round like headless chooks, really, because no one's been directing their efforts. And we've found that if we hadn't been there to direct efforts, nothing happened."

Athletes delay travel plans

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has yet to confirm if athletes will compete at all in India.

The first teams - lawn bowls, hockey and badminton - were to leave this weekend but the NZOC says it is now clear that the Games Village will not be ready.

Team delegates including NZOC president Mike Stanley and secretary-general Barry Maister have carried out an inspection and will return to New Zealand on Thursday.

Mr Stanley says they are continuing to push for an urgent resolution and it is not a matter of comfort or luxury, but of hygiene and safety.

Swimming New Zealand chief executive Mike Byrne believes athletes should compete at alternative competitions if the Delhi Games are cancelled.

Meanwhile, the Scotland Commonwealth Games Association says it is close to withdrawing its athletes from the Games and officials are meeting on Thursday to make a final decision. Canada has also delayed the arrival of its athletes.

The opening ceremony has been scheduled for 3 October.