26 Sep 2010

Commonwealth Games athletes arrive in Delhi

6:19 am on 26 September 2010

The first athletes have arrived in Delhi a week ahead of the Commonwealth Games, though the England contingent's chef de mission has warned there is still much work to do at the athletes' village.

The Games have been plagued by construction delays, concern over sub-standard accommodation for athletes, security and infrastructure problems, and health worries due to an outbreak of dengue fever.

Several nations, including New Zealand have delayed their teams' arrival in India for the Games, though the New Zealand Olympic Committee confirmed on Friday it still intended to send a team.

The England's men's hockey and lawn bowls teams arrived on Friday but are staying in hotels before moving to the athletes' village on Monday, the BBC reports.

England's chef de mission Craig Hunter said while it was a boost to see the first athletes arrive on schedule, "more and swift action" is required before the next wave arrives on Sunday.

"In the village, the level of activity continues to pick up and we are in a phase of looking at the detail, making sure that fire and safety equipment and procedures are in place and that the apartments are clean and safe", he told the BBC.

Scotland is sending its athletes, as planned, on Saturday. The competitors will also stay at a hotel, initially.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell inspected the Games Village on Friday and said that there had been considerable improvement, but work needed to continue with the utmost urgency.

The president of Australia's Olympic Committee, John Coates, said India should never have been given the Games in the first place.

Nevertheless, Australian Commonwealth Games officials said that having visited the Games Village on Friday, their team were "quite happy" with the accommodation and would move in on Monday.

The Canadian women's field hockey team and Team Canada's administrative staff delayed a Friday evening departure. The team attache told AFP they may leave on Sunday or Monday, if conditions at the athletes' village improved.