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Snakes and Other Problems Still Plague Commonwealth Games

With a week remaining before opening ceremonies, the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi still face problems.

A top Indian boxer was kept waiting for nearly four hours Saturday before being transported from the Games administration office to the athletes' village. Akhil Kumar said he then wanted to rest, but his bed collapsed when he sat on it.

On Wednesday, part of a ceiling at the weightlifting venue collapsed. A day earlier, a pedestrian bridge under construction at the main stadium fell apart, injuring 27 people.

Add another problem to that list. “We even found a snake; I don't know if it is an Indian snake, it was inside one of
our rooms.” said Harris Mbulelo Majeke, South Africa’s High Commissioner to India. He says the snake found in one of the Athlete’s Village rooms is only one of the problems facing the participants.

“That was really a threat to the lives of our athletes," he said. "Of course it was still dirty, there were still - the basement was full of water and everything was dirty inside. In fact there is a lot of repairs to be done"

Even with that, Majeke says as far as South Africa is concerned, the Commonwealth Games will go on.

“I think we have very serious concerns, which were really disappointing. But the teams are coming, going to be part of the Commonwealth Games, no doubt about that, but we are still rejecting the conditions over there. They are bad for us"

Saturday, Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell said significant work had been done in recent days, but that there is still a lot to be done.

“The problem in regard to commonwealth games relates only to one thing. That is housekeeping of Commonwealth Games Village. All other venues are in perfect shape.”

Although numerous individual athletes have pulled out of the games, all of the national teams scheduled to compete are expected to do so after hearing pledges from the Indian Government that the venues will be ready on time.

In addition to the approximately 10,000 athletes from 71 teams, representing 54 Commonwealth member states, India is expecting a huge influx of sports enthusiasts and tourists for the Games.

India had hoped to use the Games as an example of its growth as a regional power, but the problems have created a firestorm of negative publicity.

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years for members of the organization of mostly former British colonies.