CWG May be Called Off: New Zealand Chef de Mission
Auckland, Sep 21 (IANS) The Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, scheduled to begin Oct 3, is under serious risk of being called off, the New Zealand team's chef de mission Dave Currie said Tuesday.
The unprepared state of the athletes village has stunned foreign delegates in the Indian capital and there was a mountain to climb to have it ready for its official opening Friday, when the first athletes are scheduled to arrive, Currie said.
Currie has accepted an offer from the Games Organising Committee (OC) to shift from their allocated accommodation - which he described as "substandard" - to another tower in the village premises.
Currie Tuesday said the prospects of the Games being cancelled were now very real.
"That's not a decision that we'll make (alone) but there are some realities. If the village is not ready and athletes can't come, obviously the implications of that are that it's not going to happen," he was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.
"I think they (Commonwealth Games Federation) are in severe difficulties. In the time frame that is left, unless there is tremendous effort and energy and problem-solving ability to get it done, I think it's going to be extremely hard to get across the line.
"They've got a little bit of time but it's kind of two seconds to midnight really."
Currie said the half-built nature of New Zealand's proposed accommodation was "extraordinarily disappointing" to his delegation when they arrived last week.
There was a large amount of post-construction cleanup to be completed, along with issues surrounding cleanliness, plumbing, wiring, internet and mobile phones.
"It's pretty grim really and certainly disappointing when you consider the amount of time they've had to get the village ready for athletes to arrive," he said, noting there was still remedial work to be carried out on their new area.
New Zealand Olympic Committee officials were flying to India Tuesday to inspect the village while Fennell also planned to arrive soon to "assess the situation first hand and provide our member countries and territories with a frank assessment".
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Michael Fennell Tuesday described the village as "seriously compromised".
"Final preparations for the Commonwealth Games Village have been of concern to the CGF since viewing the residential zone along with a number of Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) advance parties on September 15th," Fennell said.
Fennell said problems arose due to constant pushing out of building deadlines. Now increased security around the site was slowing the building process.
New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) president Mike Stanley and secretary-general Barry Maister left for New Delhi Tuesday.
Stanley said New Zealand was working with five other nations - England, Scotland, Wales, Canada and Australia - in assessing preparations for the Games. He said the group had voiced their concerns "at the highest possible level".
"What they are frustrated by is not enough action, not enough quick action, to see that, between the time we have now and the athletes coming into the village, or even the opening of the Games, things are going to be ready," he said.
Stanley did not want to speculate on how big a risk there was that the Games might not be able to proceed on time.
"There has always been a chance that something could happen to the Games," he said.