Amidst reports of a snake lurking in a room in the much-maligned Games Village came the refreshing news that Australian and English swimmers were travelling to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games. A few more pullouts were pushed into the background as nearly 1,100 athletes and officials from various countries landed here on Sunday.
The Games Village, however, continued to be under scrutiny for various reasons.
South African High Commissioner Harris Mbulelo Mejeke claimed that a snake was found in the room of one of the athletes. Botswana officials complained of filthy bedsheets, faulty bathroom fittings and debris around, but they praised the “awesome” food and a nice international zone. The 31-member contingent from Botswana is to arrive over the next two days. Like the Botswanans, the Canadians too hinted at staying in private hotels until the conditions in the Village “improved.”
An English delegation of 20 members also checked in ahead of the country's 50 athletes expected to move into their accommodation on Monday.
The Village earned praise on the Facebook, too, through some of the Welsh athletes.
Indian boxer Akhil Kumar had an unpleasant experience — a bed collapse in the Village soon after he checked in there. The shooters spent considerable time waiting for transport at the airport on arrival from Pune. Lack of communication and guidance was said to be the reason even as the National Rifle Association of India tried to play down the incident.
Meanwhile, efforts were on to clean the Village with Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Union Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekhar inspecting the progress along with Organising Committee vice-chairman Randhir Singh. “We saw the coordination among all the agencies. We don't want the athletes and the delegates to face any problems,” Ms. Dikshit said.
Scottish tennis star Elena Baltacha, ranked 50th in the world, was among the four athletes to withdraw from the Games. Australians, cyclist Travis Meyer and paddler Stephanie Sang, and Malaysian sprinter Siti Zubaidah Adabi completed the list.
Elsewhere, Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper, in a reported interview to TVNZ, continued to criticise the organisers, accusing them of having failed to meet the deadlines consistently.
Mr. Hooper found support from CGF president Michael Fennell, who said, “Mr. Hooper has been wrongly criticised for comments [on TVNZ] that were reported as being critical of the Indian government. Far from any emotive commentary, Mr. Hooper merely stated the fact that the responsibility for delivering and operating the Games lies with authorities in India, as per the Host City contract.”