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India Tries to Salvage Commonwealth Games


Indian authorities raced to give finishing touches to incomplete venues and address security concerns in a bid to salvage the Commonwealth Games which Delhi is hosting. An army of workers moved in to clean up residential blocks at the athletes' village which has emerged as one of the major concerns for foreign teams coming to take part in the Commonwealth games in Delhi.

Officials from a host of countries have complained of poor levels of cleanliness and hygiene at the village, pointing to blocked toilets, electrical problems, and piles of debris.

New Zealand became the latest country to defer travel for its team, which was scheduled to reach Delhi on Sunday. Like Scotland and Canada, which have also postponed travel, New Zealand cited hygiene and safety concerns.

Four top athletes have pulled out of the games due to begin on October 3.

As Indian authorities faced a crisis of confidence about their preparations for the mega sporting event, officials got into fire-fighting mode and frenzied activity could be seen at various venues for the games.

On Thursday, when a number of athletes had been scheduled to move in to the village, a top official in the Delhi administration, Tejinder Khanna said the accommodation would soon be ready.

Eighty percent of the work was completed by Wednesday evening, said Khanna. He added the work is proceeding on the right track and the work of cleaning is progressing well.

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh summoned top officials in charge of the games for an urgent review meeting.

Armed security personnel were deployed on the streets of New Delhi amid growing safety concerns following a shootout which injured two tourists on Sunday.

The capital's Police Commissioner, Y.S. Dadwal, dismissed fears over safety for the visiting teams, saying the security apparatus in place for the games is fool proof. Dadwal said reassured critics, adding that there is no doubt the venue is well-secured.

However, the Australian government emphasized that security remains a concern. It also alerted tourists to possible construction deficiencies after a pedestrian bridge near a stadium collapsed earlier in the week.

For months, preparations for the games have been running way behind schedule. Fears have been expressed that quality has been compromised in the rush to complete the venues. The event, meant to showcase a rising India, is fast turning into a huge embarrassment for the country.

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