There is no stopping individual pullouts from the crisis-ridden Commonwealth Games with five leading cyclists becoming the latest to withdraw citing “fears of catching dengue fever and the unsanitary condition of the athletes’ village”.
Welsh world and Olympic champion Geraint Thomas, Isle of Man rider Peter Kennaugh and the England pair of Ben Swift and Ian Stannard, said they were opting out of the Games as they feared for their health after reading reports about the dengue outbreak and the “filthy” conditions at the Games Village.
“It’s a massive disappointment first and foremost but with the hygiene and the risk of getting ill, it was a massive risk,” said Thomas, who competes in the 4,000 metres individual pursuit, the road race and the time trial.
Kennaugh said he had similar fears about competing in the event, the build-up to which has gone from bad to worse due to shoddy construction work and allegations of corruption.
“I have been worried about the situation in New Delhi for some time, particularly since the dengue fever situation became apparent a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“Then, just recently, we have seen the pictures from the village and that made my mind up for me,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.
The pictures from the Village showed filthy toilets, stained walls and dirty rooms for athletes adding to the woes of the organisers who are struggling to convince participating nations about the preparations for the Games.
David Brailsford, the Performance Director of British Cycling, refuted suggestions that the riders had been told to pull out, saying that the decision was entirely theirs.
“Given the situation they have found themselves in with the Commonwealth Games, nobody would blame the athletes for staying away, but there is no instruction from Team Sky on this issue,” he said.
Henderson pulls out of CWG
Former world champion road cyclist Greg Henderson became the first selected New Zealand athlete to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games, saying there are “too many risks” in going to Delhi for the troubled event.
Henderson, who was left shaken after seeing pictures showing “filthy” conditions at the Games Village, has informed the New Zealand cycling body about his decision to withdraw.
“There are just too many risks and in this situation the cons outweigh the pros. Who knows exactly what’s gone on there,” said Henderson, who is in Melbourne to compete in the road cycling world championships next week.
“Realistically it’s probably going to be OK and the Games will go on. But where I am in my career, at the moment the negatives outweigh the pros,” he was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Henderson said he reconsidered his decision to compete in the Games at the insistence of his wife and kids.
“It’s about my family, it’s not just about Greg Henderson any more, I’ve got to think about my wife (former Australian Olympic cyclist medallist Katie Mactier) and little girl Charlie and they don’t want me going to the Commonwealth Games,” Henderson said.