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With 11 days to go, top nations undecided for CWG

india Updated: Sep 22, 2010 19:43 IST

With Commonwealth Games just 11 days away, participation of some of the top nations is doubtful with Australia, New Zealand and Canada still undecided on sending their teams for the Oct 3-14 Games.

While Scotland and Wales are also undecided, smaller African on Wednesday expressed their resentment at the Games Organizing Committee. These countries are worried that they still have not been able to visit the venues and have warned that "full strength" teams may not be able to come for the Games.

The dengue outbreak, shooting at the Jama Masjid, the "filthy" living conditions at the Games Village, a pedestrian bridge collapsing and the falling of a ceiling tile at wrestling hall of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the showpiece stadium of the Games, have raised serious question in the minds of the participating countries.

Commonwealth Games Scotland said it was delaying sending its contingent over health and safety fears. Scotland's chef de mission Jon Doig said in a statement: "We will continue to monitor the situation before determining our next response."

"At this point we are planning for full participation in the Games and sincerely hope that the outstanding issues can be resolved. However, we will not compromise on issues of health, safety and security," he asserted.

Besides Scotland, other participating countries like New Zealand, Canada, Australia and England are also having second thoughts over sending their teams for the Games Oct 3-14.

Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib said that team officials, who are in Delhi, have raised "grave concerns" about hygiene and cleanliness in the Games Village where the athletes are to stay.

"We are concerned and we are seeking more information from the high commission and asking them to have discussions with their Indian counterparts," Arbib was quoted as saying by ABC Sport.

"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."

Australian Commonwealth Games Association chief executive Perry Crosswhite says he would support any athlete who withdraws from the Games.

"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."

Canada also hinted that it is ready to pull out of the Commonwealth Games if India quickly fails to fix the problems.

In a teleconference Tuesday with Canada's advance team of sport and security officials in Delhi, Commonwealth Games Canada president Andrew Pipe said: "This would have been an opportunity for India to shine. Instead, I think, it risks considerable international embarrassment unless some of these deficiencies can be addressed. It is not as if the Indian government has been unaware of these problems - and that is, I think, the source of so much frustration on the part of many of us."

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said that he would support any athlete who decides not to participate in the Commonwealth Games and added: "They have to make their own decision on whether they feel comfortable or not with the risks involved."

The prime minister said that it was up to the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) to decide whether or not to send a team.

He made it clear that he would support any individual athlete who decides not to go.

"I think in the end, they have to make their own decision on whether they feel comfortable or not with the risks involved," he said, adding "we're trying to give our people the best assessment that we can".

Sport Wales has asked the organisers of the Commonwealth Games to confirm that the event venues and the accommodation arrangements are fully ready and safe to enable it decide on its next move.

"We have given the Organising Committee a deadline of this evening to confirm if all venues and the Games Village are fit for the purpose," BBC Wednesday quoted a Sport Wales statement as saying.

"On the basis of that announcement, we will be contacting athletes via our team managers and advise them of the latest position and will issue a further update," the statement added.

There was, however, some hope for as Commonwealth Games England president Dame Kelly Holmes came to the defence of Delhi, saying that delays are part and parcel of any multi-sporting event.

Holmes, a former Olympic double gold medallist who visited Delhi last month along with Prime Minister David Cameron, said: "I compare it to the Athens Olympics when they were still planting trees on the day it opened. I don't think it can get any worse than that."

"It is a fair point with a nation where so many people are in unfortunate positions, but I really hope the Games brings a different energy and makes some people feel proud. I just hope the general public in India will be given the chance to go to the Games," Holmes was quoted as saying by The Times.

Some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 countries and territories are expected to attend the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games, India's biggest sporting event after the 1982 Asian Games it hosted in New Delhi.