Swimmers sick at New Delhi games

Doctors blame warm up pool as two Australians pull out and another 50 swimmers fall sick at Commonwealth Games.

    The 19th Commonwealth Games in the Indian capital has been hit by a series of controversies  [AFP]  

    Organisers of India's Commonwealth Games are facing a new crisis as two Australian swimmers have pulled out of the competition because of health issues.

    Up to 50 swimmers are reported to have come down with a stomach virus potentially caused by the suspect quality of water at the aquatics centre in New Delhi, although game organisers say they have only received letters of withdrawal from just two Australians.

    Al Jazeera's Divya Gopalan, reporting from the Indian capital, said that doctors working for the Australian and English swimming teams are saying that since so many swimmers have the same kind of stomach bug suggests that they must have picked up the illness in the warm up pool.

    Despite assurances from organisers that daily tests of the water have been clear, the English team is seeking more reassurances. They are asking to see the test results and have made complaints about insects and feathers in the pool.

    There are concerns that blocked toilets and issues with sewage near the pool might be linked to the suspected contamination, our correspondent said.

    'Matter of urgency'

    Mike Fennell, the head of the Commonwealth Games Federation, pledged to investigate the matter quickly.

    He said officials in the Indian capital will conduct tests on both the main pool and the warm up pool at the aquatic complex. But he declined to say whether the swimming events might be cancelled or moved.

    Games at a glance
      It is the 19th Commonwealth Games
      The event runs between October 3-14
      The athlete's village will host over 6,500 competitors from 71 nations and territories
      Total of 260 events in 17 sporting disciplines over 12 days
      About 30,000 volunteers will assist organisers
      Commonwealth nations make up 1.8 billion people, accounting for one-third of the world's population


    "I would not like to speculate about this immediately," Fennell said. "If there is something unsafe, you cannot swim in that water. It is a matter we have to deal with a great deal of urgency."

    The problems are the latest to plague the games, which kicked off on October 3 after weeks of controversy over whether India would be able to manage an event of such magnitude.

    Rebecca Adlington shook off the effects of the stomach virus to win the 800 metres, while her fellow Australian Alicia Coutts won her third individual gold medal at the games on Thursday.

    Chad le Clos of South Africa won his second gold medal with victory in the 400 individual medley, adding to his 200 butterfly gold from Monday. Natalie du Toit of South Africa won the 100-metre Paralympic 100 S9 event Thursday, adding to her gold from the 50 metres on Tuesday.

    Brent Hayden gave Canada another gold medal with victory in the 100 freestyle in a time of 47.98 seconds. Simon Burnett of England was second in 48.54, while pre-race favourite and fastest qualifier Eamon Sullivan of Australia took the bronze in 48.69.

    Australia has dominated the velodrome, sweeping the four gold medals on Thursday to lift its track cycling tally to 10 of the 11 awarded so far.

    World and Olympic champion cyclist Anna Meares won the women's sprint for her third gold medal of the meet, while her teenage teammate Megan Dunn collected her second by winning the 10-kilometre scratch race.

    The Australian quartet also won the men's team pursuit, defeating New Zealand, and Shane Perkins won the men's sprint.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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