Organisers told us they'd be ready, says Commonwealth Games chief

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The Independent Online

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper insists his organisation should not shoulder the blame for the problems which have plagued the build-up to the event in Delhi.

Complaints have come from a number of teams about the poor state of the athletes' village, while preparations have been hit by failures in the construction of venues. A bridge at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Games, collapsed last Tuesday, leaving over 20 people injured. Part of the ceiling at the weightlifting arena fell in on Wednesday.

Hooper claimed repeated requests from the CGF's co-ordination commission earlier in the year to speed up construction did not get a positive response.

"When we viewed [the Games village] in March, it was clear it was a massive work in progress and a lot of work had to be done," he told Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"Everybody including the chefs de mission who came from all the teams were aware of the construction status. We kept getting shown the various model units that had been done and assured, 'Yes, we realise we are on a tight schedule but we will all get it done and delivered to the same standard.'

"Again, when the co-ordination commission visited in May, two months after the chefs de mission had been, they were given the same reassurances. The co-ordination commission stated publicly in its press release that it put out that a key concern and key issue was the readiness in particular of the Games village. All the warning signs were there. We were pushing very hard, we kept pushing. You can lead a horse to water you can't make it drink. These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem."

England are tonight spending their first night in the Games Village. A group of around 20 support team staff will stay in the accommodation to ensure conditions are suitable for the 48 athletes from the hockey, lawn bowls and shooting teams to move in tomorrow. They will be followed by 36 more competitors from gymnastics, archery and weightlifting on Tuesday.

England chef de mission Craig Hunter said: "We are where we think the accommodation is acceptable for us. The village had the potential to be five star. We're at about three star at the moment."