New Delhi: The build-up to the Commonwealth Games suffered a twin shock on Tuesday when a foot overbridge under construction collapsed, injuring 23 people, and a review of the facilities in the Games village on Tuesday found it “filthy and uninhabitable”.
The developments came after a suspected attack by terrorists that injured two Taiwanese tourists on Sunday and triggered security concerns among participating countries. The Games, spread over two weeks, are due to begin on 3 October.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has given the organizing committee two days to fix the facilities at the village even as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) intervened to demand an explanation from all concerned agencies.
“The Prime Minister is concerned over what happened. The cabinet secretary, who is the Prime Minister’s point man to review the preparations, has personally visited the site and is monitoring the situation,” said a PMO official, who did not want to be named.
Even as preparations for the Games come under critical scrutiny for missing schedules, a fresh setback occurred when the overbridge collapsed near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue for the opening ceremony on 3 October, injuring some workers. This came hours after CGF president Michael Fennell, in a letter to cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, called for immediate steps to clean up the village where officials and top athletes are to stay.
More delays: At least 23 people were injured when the foot overbridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium collapsed on Tuesday. Ankit Agrawal/Mint
“The condition of the residential zone has shocked the majority of CGAs (Commonwealth Games associations) that are in Delhi... The CGF has asked the cabinet secretary to immediately deploy the necessary resources to fix all the outstanding issues to an acceptable level,” Fennell said in a statement.
Separately, CGF chief executive Mike Hooper told reporters at a press meet: “Predominantly, the issue is of cleanliness of the towers in the residential zone. The matter came to our attention when we paid a preliminary visit to the Games village on 15 September along with some representatives of the advanced parties of Commonwealth Games associations.”
However, the organizing committee defended itself. “Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards, we have different standards,” organizing committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot said.
He added: “We were aware of this issue (cleanliness) and we have already started our work. While 70% of work on cleaning the residential blocks has been completed, we will complete the remaining in 36 hours.”
Union urban development minister S. Jaipal Reddy added: “I am not worried at all. I am confident and cool about organizing of the Games. We will have a very successful Games.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s top discus thrower Dani Samuel joined a long list of top athletes absenting themselves from the Games. Others not attending include Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell and Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
Reuters and PTI contributed to this story.