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Australia, NZ are game for Delhi
« on: September 25, 2010, 04:00:48 PM »

Australia, NZ are game for Delhi
British athletes and officials arrive in New Delhi, on Friday. (PTI)

New Delhi/Melbourne: Australia and New Zealand have confirmed their participation for the Commonwealth Games while the first batch of English athletes landed in Delhi amid an emergency inspection of the much-criticised Games Village by CGF boss Mike Fennell, on Friday.

After days of indecision, Australia and New Zealand confirmed their presence in the October 3 to 14 event and also gave a thumbs up to the Athletes’ Village, which they had dubbed “filthy” just a couple of days ago.

This confirmation followed Fennell’s inspection of the Village Friday morning during which the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief took stock of the athletes’ living area, accompanied by Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi and secretary general Randhir Singh among others.

But there was no stopping the individual pullouts that have dogged the Games, with Welsh world and Olympic champion cyclist Geraint Thomas, Isle of Man rider Peter Kennaugh, Australian three-time gold medallist relay runner Tamsyn Lewis and the England pair of Ben Swift and Ian Stannard, along with Kiwi Greg rider Henderson announcing their withdrawal citing health and security fears.

Amid the pullouts, the first batch of English athletes, including their hockey and lawn bowling squad, landed in Delhi but headed to hotels instead of the Village as their living area is yet to be ready. They are expected to move into the Village by Monday.

A few Australian athletes have, however, checked into the Village despite previous concerns about hygiene.

Earlier Friday morning, Fennell carried out his inspection after being told by his staff that “considerable improvements” have been made at the Village even as embattled organisers continued their sprint against time to complete preparations.

Even as Fennell took stock of the pending work, Australia and New Zealand Commonwealth Games bosses confirmed participation of their teams in Delhi. This came after days of uncertainty over whether they would be in the Indian capital, with the Australian Olympic Committee even questioning the wisdom behind awarding the event to Delhi.

Meanwhile, Scotland have followed England and Wales by deciding to send athletes to the Commonwealth Games, announcing on Friday that their first group would depart for New Delhi on Saturday.

Scotland’s rugby sevens, boxing and wrestling teams had been due to travel on Friday but their departure was delayed because of concerns over facilities, particularly in the athletes’ Village. After receiving assurances of progress as well as safety guarantees from Games officials, the delayed athletes would travel early next week, officials said.

The archery, bowls, shooting, tennis and weightlifting teams who were due to travel on Saturday would continue as scheduled. “There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead in Delhi, but we are confident that these can be effectively managed,” Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman Michael Cavanagh said in a statement.

Scotland’s decision to join them followed a report from the team’s Chef de Mission, Jon Doig, that progress continued to be made and promises from organisers that outstanding issues would be resolved before the team arrived.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our athletes who have remained calm throughout these extremely difficult few days and continued to pledge their commitment to the team,” Cavanagh said.(PTI)
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