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Australia backs India amid Commonwealth Games fears

Australia's government backed India today amid concerns about New Delhi's ability to stage a successful Commonwealth Games next month, saying it was confident preparations for the event would be finished on time.

world Updated: Sep 22, 2010 10:10 IST

Australia's government backed India on Wednesday amid concerns about New Delhi's ability to stage a successful Commonwealth Games next month, saying it was confident preparations for the event would be finished on time.

Preparations for the Games, involving 8,000 athletes from Britain and its former colonies, have been blighted by problems, including the collapse of a footbridge on Tuesday, in which 27 people were injured, and security concerns.

Sports Minister Mark Arbib said the government and Australian sporting officials were confident preparations would be ready in time, with the Games due to open on Oct. 3.

Arbib said he had held talks with the head of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, Perry Crosswhite, and both believed that the troubled Games, expected to cost around $6 billion to stage, should go ahead.

"The Australian government is committed and our number-one priority is the safety of our athletes, and those people travelling to India," Arbib told Australian radio.

"His (Crosswhite's) view was that while there was still some work to be undertaken, he was satisfied that it would be completed before Australian athletes started arriving on Sept. 27," Arbib said.

There have been complaints about sub-standard conditions in the athletes' village, and Australian world champion discus thrower Dani Samuels pulled out of the Games on Wednesday, citing security fears and concerns about health risks in India.

Arbib said the government continued to receive intelligence reports of possible terrorist attacks in India during the Games, with official warnings to travellers to be careful.

"Of course there are security concerns, but also there has been an outbreak in recent times of dengue fever, there has been a larger than normal monsoon season, and of course there are a number of people concerned about their health," he said.