Commonwealth Games

Games 'may not happen'

2010-09-21 07:45
Dave Currie (File)

Wellington -New Zealand team manager Dave Currie says next month's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi "may not happen" because organizers face severe difficulties in completing athletes accommodation.

Currie, who is in New Delhi, told New Zealand radio network newstalkZB on Tuesday there was now a serious prospect the games would be cancelled.

"I think they are in severe difficulties," Currie said. "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."

Currie said it was "extremely disappointing" when he arrived in New Delhi to find the New Zealand team's accommodation was still under construction.

New Zealand, along with Canada, Scotland and Ireland, described the accommodation as "unlivable" and the 300-strong New Zealand contingent of athletes and officials have been allocated new quarters. The Village is due to open to athletes on Thursday.

Currie said New Zealand would consult with other countries before making a final decision on attending the October 3-14 games.

"That's not a decision that we'll make (alone) but there are some realities," he said. "If the village is not ready and athletes can't come, obviously the implications of that are that it's not going to happen."

Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell wrote to the Indian government on Tuesday outlining his serious concerns regarding the residential section of the village and urging immediate action.

The buildup to the October 3-14 games has been mired in problems ranging from delays in construction to security concerns.

Currie said there were issues of cleanliness and hygiene, plumbing and wiring still had to be connected in the athletes village and internet and mobile phone access was limited.

"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," Currie said.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chairperson Mike Stanley, who left for New Delhi on Tuesday, said New Zealand was working with England, Scotland, Wales, Canada and Australia in assessing games preparations.

He said those nations had all expressed 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," Stanley said. "As the clock ticks down, that becomes more critical."

New Zealand prime minister John Key said he was aware of concerns over the games village but expected games organisers to make every effort to rectify those issues.

"I've seen the comments by Dave Currie but I think he was just reflecting the frustrations we had expressed to us overnight," Key said.

"I wouldn't say that means the Commonwealth Games would be off. I think it means they're trying very hard to resolve those issues but of course, in the end that's the call that the Olympic Committee needs to make."

Asked whether New Zealand would act unilaterally and pull out, Key said it was "unlikely that New Zealand would make a call that other countries weren't prepared to make."

Key said the athletes village and security remained the major issues for New Zealanders.

He was expecting a decision on whether nations would take part "to be later rather than sooner."

"The areas (of concern) aren't insurmountable although there are real concerns about whether they can be achieved in the timeframe," Key said. "They're really malfunctioning buildings and the like, so whether those things can be fixed up is what the New Zealand (officials) will look at."


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