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New Controversy Surrounds Upcoming Commonwealth Games


Less than two weeks before New Delhi hosts the Commonwealth Games, the event is embroiled in fresh controversy. The Commonwealth Games Federation has slammed the conditions at the athletes' village, while a pedestrian bridge near one of the main stadiums has collapsed, injuring at least 23 people.

For months, authorities have been missing deadlines as they race to get stadiums and other infrastructure ready for the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi from October 3 - 14.

Now, the Commonwealth Games Federation and advance teams that have arrived in New Delhi have expressed dismay at the state of facilities at the residential zone in the village built for the athletes. They said many of the toilets were leaking and there were piles of debris still lying around.

"Conditions and the cleanliness of the Games village, which I would have to say in many, many of the towers, I am not going to pull any punches, were filthy," said Mike Hooper, chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Besides cleanliness, plumbing, electrical wiring, and Internet access have been identified as other problems.

The Commonwealth Games Federation has demanded that Indian authorities improve the conditions at the village by Thursday, when athletes begin arriving.

The Organizing Committee of the Games in New Delhi said there is no cause for worry. Vice Chairman Randhir Singh said work is being done "round-the-clock" to take care of all glitches.

"The buildings are perfect, they have all appreciated the buildings ... there were certain blocks that had this problem as far as cleaning was concerned," Singh said.

But problems appear to be mounting. On Tuesday, a pedestrian bridge being built to link the parking facility with the stadium where the opening ceremony of the games will be held collapsed. Several laborers working at the site were injured.

The Commonwealth Games is the biggest sporting event India will host in nearly three decades, with 17,000 athletes from countries of the former British Empire participating.

India was hoping to showcase a country whose economy and global profile has been rising. But in recent months, reports of shoddy quality of infrastructure, allegations of corruption, huge cost overruns and lack of preparedness have dogged the event.

Security concerns have also heightened following an attack by two unidentified gunmen that injured two foreign tourists on Sunday.

But Indian authorities remain optimistic and promise they will host a successful event.

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