28 Sep 2010

NZ athletes settle into Games village

12:29 pm on 28 September 2010

New Zealand's first Commonwealth Games team arrived at the Games Village in the Indian capital, Delhi, on Tuesday.

The unfinished and unsanitary state of accommodation in the tower-blocks had prompted several nations, including New Zealand, to delay their teams' arrival.

The lawn bowls team, which had been in Dubai for two days because of the the delay, was on Tuesday settling into the competitors' accommodation, and members of the archery team had also arrived.

Coach Dave Edwards says the facilities are not up to the standard the team is used to, but they're habitable and functional. "The plumbing's working at the moment and the electricity's all good."

New Zealand officials were already in the village, and chef de mission Dave Currie, who has spent a second night there, says the accommodation is now very different from the "bomb site" that greeted them a fortnight ago.

Mr Currie said he'd been told workers had removed some 40 tonnes of rubbish from the site.

Despite the progress, officials in India say a fifth of the rooms in the Games village are still not ready.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has denied criticising India for the setbacks that have overshadowed the build-up to the event.

The BBC reports that the federation's chief executive Mike Hooper told it on Sunday his organisation was not to blame for the problems, adding: "These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem."

CGF president Mike Fennell has defended his colleague's comments in a statement, saying: "Far from any emotive commentary, Mr Hooper merely stated the fact that the responsibility for delivering and operating the Games lies with authorities in India, as per the host city contract."

The Games will be opened by Prince Charles on Sunday night.