DIRTY bathrooms, unfinished balconies, a dog’s filthy pawprints on a bed: the images that spread from Delhi across the globe little more than a week ago and told us there was something seriously wrong with preparations for the Commonwealth Games.
Coming in the week in which a footbridge collapsed outside the main stadium, injuring dozens of workmen, and a section of ceiling gave way in the weightlifting arena, it contributed to a growing fear that the event would have to be dramatically cancelled at the 11th hour.
Scores of stars pulled out, suddenly concerned by injuries, as Indian officials uttered hurried reassurances and international Games chiefs squirmed when asked how it had got to this stage.
But quietly the work has been done and the Games are on. Last night Prince Charles was among those at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the opening ceremony and events will get underway today.
And now City A.M. can reveal exclusive pictures from inside the much-maligned athletes village, showing outstanding accommodation finished to the highest standards and testimony from one British athlete that facilities are “better than anything at home”.
Sarah Thomas, who represents Wales at badminton, admits she was stunned at the excellent level of accommodation that greeted her when she arrived on Tuesday, having seen swathes of negative coverage in the days before she flew out.
“All I can comment on is how great the village and the whole games is. I know in the UK it is getting really negative media but out here it’s nothing like they are portraying it,” said Thomas.
“The accommodation was a huge shock to us, after seeing all the bad media before we got here. We were expecting it to be terrible but we were pleasantly surprised. The rooms are very spacious and clean. The only problems we have had are with the wifi and our air con dying. All the Welsh team are in one block, and there is great team spirit here.”
Thomas, at 17 one of the youngest British competitors in Delhi, has also been delighted by the quality of facilities at her disposal as she prepares for a crack at a gold medal.
“The training facilities are good,” she adds. “We are training once a day in a hall which is better than anything we have at home. Then we train again in the stadium, which is fantastic for playing and spectating. The only problem is the facilities are 45 minutes away from the village.”