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Central & South Asia
Security concerns mar India games
With Commonwealth Games starting October 3, Indian security forces had to postpone a lock-down due to logistics problem.
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2010 13:09 GMT
Poor infrastructure has made security preparations in New Delhi even more challenging [AFP]

After facing international criticism for lax preparations, Indian forces have stepped up security in New Delhi with police setting up road blocks across the capital one week before the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

The Indian government has been chastised for providing unsanitary living quarters to athletes, shoddy construction of infrastructure and problems with transportation, medical services and security arrangements.

"The deadline for the total security lock-down of the venues was yesterday and we've just heard from the [New] Delhi police that that's been pushed to tomorrow," Al Jazeera's Prerna Suri said, reporting from the capital on Sunday. 

Large scale public gathering such as the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games are seen as prime targets for attacks and thus require tight security.

At the main stadium "there hasn't been much of sanitation" nor has there been a security lock-down for the athletes' village, our correspondent said.

Infrastructure problems, including collapsed bridges and incomplete stadiums, are "making the police's work quite difficult," she said.

Boxer knocked-out by bed

In yet another sign of infrastructure problems, Akhil Kumar, an Indian boxer, went down hard on Saturday-- but not during a boxing match. His bed collapsed at the athletes' village, in the latest blow to the Games which are scheduled to kick off next week.

Games at a glance

 It is the 19th Commonwealth Games.
 To be held between October 3 and 14.
 The Games village will host over 6,500 athletes from 71 nations.
 Total of 260 events in 17 sporting disciplines over 12 days.
 About 30,000 volunteers to assist.
  Commonwealth nations make up 1.8 billion people, accounting for one-third of the world's population.

"I sat down on my bed to rest but suddenly it gave way. After that I noticed that part of it has no plywood," Kumar, 29, told reporters.

"It was very disappointing after enduring a long journey. The athletes are at least entitled to a decent place to rest," said the boxer who is considered one of India's best hopes for a gold medal.

Mike Fennell, president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, spoke at a news conference on Saturday, where he said progress has been made in addressing the multiple problems surrounding the event, but he acknowledged that significant problems remain. 

"What is of great concern is the safety and security of athletes and officials. What is clear is that the massive work that is being done now ought to have been done before," Fennell said, a day after he visited the Athletes' Village .

"There is still a lot of work to be done and it is not over yet."

Athletes pull out

Several athletes have pulled out of an event, citing concerns about filthy accommodation, shoddy construction and security.

The Games, held every four years for mostly former British colonies, are expected to cost Indian taxpayers close to $6bn, making it the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.

Many sporting events have hit trouble before opening, such as the 2004 Athens Olympics, and some of New Delhi's infrastructure projects, including a new metro and airport, have won praise.

But polls in the local media show that a vast majority of Indians are ashamed of the mismanagement at the Commonwealth Games.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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