ENGLAND’S Commonwealth Games team is set to begin flying out to Delhi today despite another torrent of setbacks leaving the event’s future dangling by a thread.
A section of ceiling in the main stadium fell in, adding to grave concerns over construction work, while an Australian TV station claimed to have exposed major security lapses.
Huge questions remain over the state of athletes’ accommodation, and Indian officials are still reeling from Monday’s collapse of a footbridge outside the stadium that injured more than 20 people.
But despite admitting that they were still far from convinced by facilities, England chiefs gave the green light for the first 22 team members to travel to India today.
“We are acutely aware that there is a small window for action and the board of Commonwealth Games England (CGE) met today to discuss this,” read a CGE statement. “The board will be seeking assurances from the Commonwealth Games Federation and the organising committee and members of the board will also be liaising with government to ensure that we have confidence that the venues and village in Delhi are structurally sound, safe and fit for purpose before the athletes arrive.”
The statement added that CGE remained concerned at the “serious” situation and that “urgent action” was needed to remedy the “significant operational issues”.
Star English trio Phillips Idowu, Christine Ohuruogu and Lisa Dobriskey pulled out of the competition, which begins on 3 October, on Monday. Idowu blamed safety fears while Ohuruogu and Dobriskey cited injuries. Scotland’s team delayed their departure while Wales set organisers a deadline of yesterday evening to provide venue assurances.
Preparations – already been blighted by health fears, corruption claims and monsoon rain – suffered again yesterday when part of a false ceiling in the weightlifting section of the Nehru Stadium collapsed.
Safety concerns, meanwhile, were heightened after an Australian reporter claimed he was able to take explosive material capable of 200 blasts into the venue.