WELLINGTON, September 21 – Dirty and unhealthy conditions at the athletes' village in New Delhi are throwing the entire Commonwealth Games in doubt, New Zealand officials said Tuesday.The warnings came after officials pointed to concerns about security following a gun attack in the Indian capital, a fortnight before the multinational event is due to start with thousands of athletes competing.
New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie, who is in New Delhi ahead of his team’s arrival, said large sections of the village were still not ready with the clock ticking to its official opening on Thursday.
"The way things are looking, it’s not up to scratch," he told New Zealand commercial radio.
"The reality is that if the village is not ready and athletes can’t come, the implications are that it’s not going to happen," Currie said, referring to the Games as a whole.
The official said his athletes had been allocated new accommodation within the village after inspections found their original tower block was unacceptable due to uncleanliness and poor facilities.
Prime Minister John Key said it was pointless sending athletes to the Commonwealth Games if they faced health and sanitation issues in the village.
Key, who said he was suffering from a heavy cold, said: "There’s no point in sending them to Delhi if they end up feeling like I currently feel at the moment.
"We need to make sure they are fit and healthy and can compete well."
The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC), which is responsible for the Commonwealth team, is already taking advice from security experts on whether it is safe for athletes to take part following Sunday’s gun attack.
Currie said the security team could not complete its assessment until after the village had been handed over to the Games organising committee on Thursday.
Indian organisers insisted the Games — comprising countries mostly drawn from the former British empire — would be safe and played down the attack outside New Delhi’s largest mosque, which wounded two Taiwanese nationals.
The New Zealand team of almost 200 athletes is scheduled to begin arriving in India from Saturday.
In a statement, the NZOC said it was also "disappointed with progress in the residential area of the Delhi Commonwealth Games village".