Indian police have today reported that the main entrance to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium — the centrepiece arena for the Commonwealth Games due to begin in Delhi on 3 October — has collapsed, injuring 23 workers.
This accident is the latest of a string of mishaps and delays, partly due to an extremely heavy monsoon. Commentators have been saying for some time that Delhi may be unfit to stage the Games, and have questioned officials’ ability to meet the deadline. The Commonwealth Games Federation president, Michael Fennell, has asked the Indian government to take urgent steps to rectify problems before the event opens.
High on the list of complaints is the state of athletes’ accommodation. It is reported that the Scottish team has had to clean its rooms; the England team is currently staying elsewhere and the New Zealand team claims the whole event could be off. It is highly embarrassing for the Games organisers, including the Indian Olympic Association president, Suresh Kalmadi, who had made big claims for the standard of the althetes’ village. Only 18 of the 34 planned residential blocks have been completed.
Athletes are also concerned about a potential outbreak of dengue fever. Pesticide sprayers were deployed to the Yamuna River, which flows by the athletes’ village. The recent end to monsoon rains may foil the dengue danger.
However, many of the indoor arenas have been completed. The squash court and main stadium look impressive.
Security is now tight in and around the Games site, following an armed attack by gunmen on a tourist bus near the main mosque in New Delhi on Sunday.
The site officially opens to athletes and games officials in two days’ time. Not all Delhians are relaxed about the deadline.
Photographs: Getty Images