Against a backdrop of controversies, corruption charges, delays, security and sanitation concerns, many countries had delayed their arrival for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi which start on Sunday. But with several international teams having moved in over the last few days, the first reports have been positive.
The Games village at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne was located in the suburbs of ParkVille on a 20ha campus. The Delhi village, next to Akshardham Temple, is three times its size, at 63.5ha.
Positive vibes: The Games village is bigger than the one at Melbourne. Priyanka Parashar/Mint
“The Delhi Games village is certainly bigger, more fantastic and interesting than the Melbourne one. I have been to seven Games and this is by far one of the finest ones,” says Ian Marsden, a shooter from Scotland, who has been part of the squad since 1986.
The Games village has 4,000 rooms in 34 towers, with apartments ranging from two- to five-bedroom units (1,400 sq. ft to 3,500 sq. ft). By Tuesday, over 3,100 athletes had moved into the facility that can house up to 8,000 athletes. The Melbourne village hosted 6,000 athletes in detached halls and townhouses.
“There were no apartment blocks in Melbourne but here I find it more convenient when it is nestled in one corner, leaving the rest of the area for other use,” says Matt Le Ber, a lawn bowls player from Guernsey. “In fact, the houses were more in a garage style in Melbourne, with about three to five people sharing it.”
New Zealand lawn bowls coach Dave Edwards told the New Zealand Press Association that “there are horror stories from previous Commonwealth Games where you roll over in the middle of the night and give your neighbour in the next bed a black eye. But these are roomy and spacious in that regard.”
Roy Adrian Colebrook, chef de mission of the Bahamas, says many players stayed in school dormitories during the Manchester Games in 2002.
“There is more onsite training facilities compared to Melbourne, which saves us a lot of time and players can practise at their convenience,” says Caroline Searle, spokesperson for the English contingent.
Marsden adds: “The best part has been the training facilities, compared to Melbourne and Manchester. Like the shooting range here is big, with grand stands and proper rest areas. Moreover, people can compete and practise in the same facility simultaneously.”
The initial bad press was unfair, says Colebrook. He says a country does what is right and best at a given time. “I believe rains and flood really frustrated the people who came in early,” he adds.