The president of South Africa's Olympic committee defended New Delhi's right to host the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games, saying on Sunday he is willing to clean any toilets himself to help ensure it goes ahead.
With organisers the target of widespread criticism for a lack of cleanliness in the athletes' villages, construction issues and security problems, SASCOC president Gideon Sam said there would be no complaints from the South Africans.
“As developing nations we must stand together,” Sam said, according to the South African Press Agency. “We cannot allow developed countries to go out there and take the last seat in the hall.”
Sam's comments came ahead of the South African team's departure for the Oct. 3-14 games. He said his athletes would not use the much-publicised conditions in the Indian capital as an excuse. “If they (the athletes) are unhappy with their rooms because they have not been swept, they must take off their jackets and sweep them themselves. We will not complain. South Africans do not do that,” Sam said. “And when I get there on Friday, if a toilet is not clean, I will clean it myself.
Along with dirty accommodation facilities, a bridge collapsed near the main venue and there was an attack on tourists in New Delhi.
On Sunday, Indian boxer Akhil Kumar, who weighs little more than 50kg, told local media that his bed collapsed under his weight in an athletes' village.
But Sam compared criticism of India to that received by South Africa ahead of its ultimately successful hosting of the football World Cup.
“We had the same problems with these countries who complained before the FIFA World Cup, and I won't even mention them because we know who they are,” he said. “As South Africans, we have always supported our friends ... and India and Brazil are our best friends. We also want to host events like this, and it is unfair if they are hosted only by countries like England, Canada and Australia.
“We will be prepared when we get there, we will work side by side with our friends, and we will come back with medals.” South Africa's Olympic committee boss did concede, however, that his team would be closely guarded at the event.
“Unfortunately for the athletes, we will be keeping a very tight rein on all of them. They will have to inform us of their every move so we can ensure they get back to their loved ones in one piece,” he said.