http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... ction=more
Australia demands answers on Delhi dramas
Updated September 22, 2010 14:32:00
The Federal Government is asking for answers from India and Commonwealth Games officials over security, safety and hygiene concerns in New Delhi.
The Games are on the brink of a full-blown crisis, 11 days out from the opening ceremony.
After a dengue fever outbreak and the shooting of two men on a tourist bus, the collapse of a new footbridge injuring more than 20 people has dealt another blow to organisers.
Team officials have also raised "grave concerns" about hygiene and cleanliness in the athletes village.
Athletes from Australia and the United Kingdom have already pulled out of the Games and more are expected to follow.
Federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib wants answers.
"We are concerned and we are seeking more information from the High Commission and asking them to have discussions with their Indian counterparts," he said.
"The Commonwealth Games Federation has written to the Indian government regarding the village and also regarding preparations for the Games, so obviously we await further information from the federation."
Australia's discus world champion, Dani Samuels, and three top British athletes have pulled out over security and health concerns.
Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief executive Perry Crosswhite says he supports any athlete who withdraws from the Games, but he is concerned they may one day regret their decision.
"We have said all along ... it's a decision of each of the athletes whether they come to the Games or not," he said.
"I think I understand why Dani Samuels decided not to go. She contacted us and told us and we accept that, and [she] probably will not be the last one.
"I'm sure we'll potentially get others that decide for the same reasons."
But Crosswhite says the Games should not be called off.
"We should be thinking about the athletes. If you call a Games off the athletes never get to compete," he said.
Australian swimming coach Michael Bohl says his team is determined to compete in the Commonwealth Games.
He says the swimmers are putting their faith in authorities to keep them safe.
"DFAT has got the latest in terms of intelligence and Swimming Australia, in conjunction with them, are keeping us in the loop as to what's happening over there," he said.
"We depart on Friday to go over to a training camp in Kuala Lumpur and we head into Delhi from there, so until we're told otherwise our focus is very much on the Commonwealth Games at this time."
One of Australia's best hopes of a medal in gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games, Lauren Mitchell, says she has no qualms about going to India.
Mitchell says she trusts advice given to her by the Australian Government and the gymnastics federation.
"I've been looking forward to this ever since I was a little girl and competing in it will be kind of like be fulfilling one of my lifelong dreams," she said.
"If the Australian Government says that it's safe, then it's safe.
"I'm going to trust them and I'm going to trust the gymnastics federation and my coaches and my family, and I wouldn't be travelling there if it wasn't safe."
But former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jane Flemming says she is not sure she would take the risk.
"It would not surprise me if we now see a massive sort of flux of withdrawals, particularly those athletes who are of a very high profile or very successful," she said.
Former Indian athletics champion Ashwini Nachappa says she is extremely embarrassed by the situation.
"It's embarrassing to the entire nation," she said.
"And the readiness and the preparedness is absolutely pathetic.
"As a former athlete, it is so disappointing and embarrassing that a nation of 1 billion cannot hold a Games in time."
Even the Indian media is labelling the Games preparation "a double whammy of embarrassment and humiliation".
But Indian officials are adamant all will be in order in time for the opening ceremony.
The president of the Federation of Indian Associations in Victoria, Vasan Srinivasan, was involved in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
He says problems will be ironed out in time.
"Manpower is huge in India. They should be able to do anything in a short span of time. People will come together to make things happen," he said.
So far a collapsed roof, a collapsed bridge, explosives allegedly on sale so close to the venue, poor athletes village with allegations of poor hygiene and a shooting which may or may not be terrorist related. Oh yeah, and the Kashmir issue is heating up again. Man, India have got their hands full dealing with this.