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Foreign Athletes Arrive in India for Commonwealth Games

There was finally a ray of hope for the Commonwealth Games as the hockey and lawn bowling teams from England arrived in New Delhi, India Friday and New Zealand confirmed that its athletes will attend the mega sporting event.

With this, worries that major nations may pull out of the games receded.

However, the foreign athletes will stay at hotels until clean-up work at the athletes' village is finished.

In recent days the event, which starts October 3, had descended into crisis. Problems plaguing the games include the squalid conditions at the athletes village, worries over security, and the quality of construction at the venues following the collapse of a pedestrian bridge.

But conditions appear to be improving. The Commonwealth Games Federation Chief, Mike Fennell, who rushed to Delhi, took stock of the city's preparedness for the event on Friday. In a statement, he said considerable improvements have been made, but it is vital that all remedial work continues with the greatest urgency.

That urgency is being imparted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has intervened and directed top Indian officials to ensure that all goes well.

Prithviraj Chavan is a minister in the office of the prime minister, also known as PM.

"It is important, a few days are left and PM took personal initiative to see that no stones are left unturned, and we conduct successful games," he said. "We are all concerned, we know it is a very prestigious undertaking for the country."

But damage has already been done and at least nine top athletes have pulled out of the games. However others have begun signaling their confidence in the games.

The head of Australia's Commonwealth Games Association, Perry Crosswhite was upbeat after a visit to the athletes' village where hundreds of cleaners are at work.

But as India faced huge criticism over the poor organization of the games, Australia's Olympic Chief John Coates said in Sydney that the event should not have been awarded to New Delhi in the first place. He said that unlike the Olympics committee, the Commonwealth Games Federation does not have sufficient resources to monitor progress of cities.

Meanwhile, commentators in India rued that the country's global image had taken a huge beating due to the shoddy preparations for the games.