Brit teams head to India

TEAM ENGLAND last night gave the Commonwealth Games a timely shot in the arm by announcing they will stick to their plan of competing in the troubled event despite lingering concerns over facilities.

Chiefs from the 17 member sports of Commonwealth Games England (CGE) unanimously agreed to compete in Delhi, albeit without a handful of high-profile names who had already withdrawn.

The decision followed similar moves from the Wales and Scotland teams, who both said they had been reassured by promises from top-level Indian officials.

Preparations for the competition, which starts on 3 October, have been dogged by allegations of corruption and monsoon rainfallbut were plunged into crisis this week by grave concerns over the cleanliness and suitability of the teams’ accommodation.

The state of the athletes’ village came in for even closer scrutiny yesterday after photographs said to have been taken this week and published by the BBC yesterday showed badly stained bathrooms, unfinished building work and a bed tarnished by muddy paw-prints.

But a CGE statement said chef de mission Craig Hunter had been encouraged by witnessing “the improved levels of resourcing which are required to resolve the significant operational issues, but we will continue to monitor the situation daily to ensure the village and stadia are safe and fit for purpose. The board continues to press the organising committee of the Commonwealth Games Federation for assurances on both the stadia and the accommodation as well as liaising with the British government. At all times the safety and security of our team is paramount.”

England’s team will be without three of its best-known names, after triple jumper Phillips Idowu, 400m star Christine Ohurogu and 1500m runner Lisa Dobriskey withdrew this week.

Wales will be missing one of its best medal chances in cyclist Geraint Thomas, who pulled out yesterday blaming hygiene fears, along with English trio Peter Kennaugh, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift. New Zealand and Canada delayed their travel while they waited for reassurances.