x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Commonwealth Games village pedestrian bridge collapses

At least 19 people were injured when a foot bridge near the main Commonwealth Games stadium collapsed and the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation has delivered stinging criticism of athletes' accommodation.

At least 19 people were injured when a foot bridge near the main Commonwealth Games stadium collapsed, barely days before the sports event starts, police and witnesses said. "We have reports of 19 people injured after the entire bridge near gate number three of the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed," a police spokesman in the control room said. Preparations for the October 3-14 Games are down to the wire and the event risks descending into farce with construction work still underway.

The chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation delivered stinging new criticism about athletes' accommodation in New Delhi, saying it was "filthy" and "uninhabitable". "The major issue is the state of them (residential towers)," Mike Hooper told a press conference in the Indian capital less than a fortnight before the Games open on October 3. "They're filthy. You can't occupy them. They need a deep clean. There's builders' dust and rubble in doorways, shower doors the wrong way round, toilets that don't work," he added. There was also "excrement in places it shouldn't be", referring to problems thought to be the result of thousands of labourers using the toilets in the "certainly uninhabitable" tower blocks. Plumbing and electrical problems typical of new-build buildings also needed resolving urgently, he said. Mr Hooper said the CGF had decided to go public with its complaints "to ensure that the athletes get what they deserve" and elevate the issue to the national government. He said the Cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, India's most senior bureaucrat, had visited the athletes' village today to assess the situation for himself. Earlier, the CGF president Michael Fennell put out a statement slamming the lack of preparedness. Mr Fennell demanded immediate action from the Indian government to fix what he called a "seriously compromised" village, saying advance parties from participating nations had been "shocked" at what they had seen.

New Delhi's Commonwealth Games organisers have shrugged off criticism of the athletes' village, saying they will provide an "excellent facility" for guests. "I can assure everyone there is no cause for worry," the organising committee vice-chairman Randhir Singh told reporters. "Delegates have praised the village as one of the best." He added: "We are working round the clock to take care of any problems. When the athletes arrive here they will find an excellent facility."