London, Sep 22 (IANS) The Commonwealth Games, to be held in New Delhi from Oct 3, has suffered another blow after three of England's high profile athletes - Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey - withdrew citing security and injury concerns.
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that Idowu's agent Ricky Simms had earlier insisted that no official decision had been made, but the 31-year-old Idowu used his Twitter account to say: "Sorry people, but I have children to think about. My safety is more important to them than a medal."
When pressed on the decision by a follower who said they were "disappointed", Idowu, a triple jumper, responded: "Which is why I apologised."
"I understand people will be disappointed that I will not be competing. I am disappointed. If you know me as an athlete you will know these games mean alot (sic) to me. It's the champs in which I won my 1st medal.
"And four years ago won my 1st gold, which kicked off the success I have in my career to date.
"All the press today about bridges collapsing and 23+ people being hurt, floods and unhabitable (sic) living conditions, getting my daughter ready for school this morning and seeing all of that put me off. I can't afford to risk my safety in the slightest," Idowu wrote on the social networking site.
Ohuruogu, the Olympic 400 metres champion, and world 1,500m silver medallist Dobriskey, both of whom won their first international gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne four years ago, cited injury problems.
"I had already picked up my team kit and was getting ready to go to the preparation camp in Doha. Instead, I will have a short break now and resume winter training in October to get ready for the 2011 season," Ohuruogu was quoted as saying by the daily.
Dobriskey, who had hoped to double up in the 800 and 1,500m, was insistent that her withdrawal had nothing to do with the adverse reports emerging from New Delhi about the Commonwealth Games.
Dobriskey said her decision to pull out was because of an upper ligament injury picked up in Zurich a month ago when she had to swerve sharply to avoid a final-bend pile-up.
"I love multi-sport events and have never been bothered by the other issues surrounding the Games," she said. "I would love to have had the chance to defend my title and have been looking forward to it since the Europeans."
Australia's women's world discus champion, Dani Samuels, pulled out of the Games after admitting that she was terrified about the security threat.
"At the end of the day, this is sport," she said. "It's not worth risking your life."