Athletes land in Delhi

DELHI – THE country’s first batch to the 2010 Commonwealth Games arrived in New Delhi Sunday morning, seven days before the official kick-off.
Two-time Olympian Epiphanie Nyirabarame will lead the women's charge in New Delhi
Two-time Olympian Epiphanie Nyirabarame will lead the women's charge in New Delhi

DELHI – THE country’s first batch to the 2010 Commonwealth Games arrived in New Delhi Sunday morning, seven days before the official kick-off.

After a tedious 16-hour flight from Kigali, the team was received by Mucyo Rutishisha, the security liaison officer at Rwanda’s high commission in India.
The team is temporarily hosted at Ashok hotel as work on the Games village is still in progress.

Other teams temporarily camped at the hotel include Nigeria, Scotland and Kenya.

It is however expected that the Games’ main venue Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the Games Village will be ready by Wednesday.

A suspected militant attack on two foreign tourists has also highlighted fears about security.

In a bid to combat this, around 85,000 policemen in uniform and plain clothes, and 20,000 paramilitary commandos have been deployed across the city.

In the past few days, the Games organising committee has faced severe criticism from various participating countries over accommodation which has been described as filthy, uninhabitable and unsafe.

The Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper has blamed India for the current chaos in New Delhi. He said that his organisation was partly to blame for problems in the lead-up to the Delhi Games but that much blame should be put on India.

Hooper said that while the federation was the supreme authority and pushed for deadlines to be met, it was powerless to get projects completed on time, with the event just a week away.

He further said that he had been applying pressure on organisers since his team first viewed it in March.
“These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem. But the reality is we are where we are.”

He said that since the problems had been made public a lot of work has been done on the site.The cost of hosting the largest sporting event in India’s history has soared.

It has become the most expensive Commonwealth Games so far, with estimates ranging up to more than $10bn (£6.3bn).

Delhi has had seven years to prepare, though very little work was done until 2008. Ticket sales have so far been low. Some 7,000 athletes from 71 countries are expected to compete in the Games.

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