x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Australia: it was a mistake to award India Commonwealth Games

India should never have been awarded the Commonwealth Games, Australia's Olympic chief says as New Delhi scrambled to fix problems that have caused athletes to withdraw.

India should never have been awarded the Commonwealth Games, Australia's Olympic chief John Coates said today as New Delhi scrambled to fix problems that have caused athletes to withdraw. Mr Coates said it was obvious that the venues in the Indian capital were not ready for the Games, which are set to begin in nine days. "The Games shouldn't have been awarded to New Delhi, in hindsight," Australian Olympic Committee president Mr Coates told reporters in Sydney. "I think the problem is the Commonwealth Games Federation is under-resourced. It doesn't have the ability... to monitor the progress of cities in the way that the Olympic committee does." Mr Coates said that the International Olympic Committee already had contracts in place with 2012 host London and 2016 city Rio de Janeiro that set deadlines for the construction of venues and facilities. Host cities were also required to host test events one year before, he said. "If that had been the case here then certainly something would have been done a lot sooner because obviously the venues are not ready," Mr Coates said. "You can't ever cut any slack when your focus should be on the best conditions for the athletes," he added. New Delhi is preparing to host thousands of athletes for the Games, which begin on October 3 amid high-profile withdrawals from athletes and as several national teams delay their arrival in India. Mr Coates wished the Indian officials well, saying he hoped the games would be a success and refused to comment on whether Australia or other teams should withdraw from the showcase competition. He said he understood why Commonwealth Games officials would have wanted to award the event to the second most populous nation on Earth and a dynamic economic success story as it attempts to spread the influence of the Games. "Certainly the Commonwealth Games for its future needs to move away from just the old countries - Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Britain taking turns. But the problem is, they (India) weren't ready." * AFP