Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Delhi stadium in race to be ready

Games athletic track

Athletes shocked by track problems - Edwards

The Commonwealth Games stadium in Delhi is facing a crucial 24 hours as workers battle to ensure it is ready for the athletics which starts on Wednesday.

Tarmac is still being laid on the damaged track, while half of the in-field is still without grass.

BBC Sport's Jonathan Edwards said: "This is a culture where things are got ready at the last minute but there are very real concerns.

"I've seen a number of athletes come in and I think they're in shock."

The Delhi Games, which started with a spectacular opening ceremony on Sunday, has been blighted by concerns that venues and accommodation would not be completed, as well as a collapsed bridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

A number of countries delayed the arrival of their competitors with the athletes' village being called "inhospitable" just last week.


Despite the concerns, all the competitions have so far started as scheduled, but the latest news concerning Delhi's main stadium is a huge blow to the organisers and will certainly not help the mood of the athletes.

Athletics action is due to kick off on Wednesday at 1300 BST and Edwards, part of the BBC Sport team covering the event, was inside the stadium on Tuesday to witness tarmac still being laid and being painted at the start of the 1500m.

The former Olympic triple jump champion told BBC Sport's athletics reporter Phil Jones: "There is a feeling that there are a lot of people working here but no real sense of urgency. They're relaying part of the track which I think was damaged during the opening ceremony.

"For a top athlete coming into a stadium this is not what you expect. It's beyond anything I imagined. Hopefully it will be ready to go on Wednesday for the first session."

The Games has suffered a number of organisational difficulties, including complaints about filthy conditions, infrastructure problems and even a snake being found both in a competitor's room and at the tennis stadium.

As well as the collapsed bridge, the ceiling at the weightlifting arena also suffered structural damage.

However, six days before the opening ceremony the organising committee declared accommodation fit for habitation and many of the competitors were then satisfied to move into the village.

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