England will make a final decision on their participation at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in September, but currently have no major security concerns over the Delhi event.
A Daily Telegraph report yesterday quoted a senior Whitehall source saying there was "virtually no chance" an England team would be sent to India. But while admitting security is of paramount concern, the England team's chef de mission, Craig Hunter, is optimistic that the Games, which are scheduled to take place from 3-14 October will be a success.
"Obviously we've been looking at security as one of the most important factors in determining whether the team will participate next October," Hunter said. "It's something that we will make a decision about once we have the appropriate intelligence. But at this point in time we've not seen anything that would suggest we would not be participating and we continue to be very excited about the prospects of participating in Delhi next year."
The England team has been in regular discussions with the British High Commission in Delhi, the Metropolitan Police, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as well as fellow home nations Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey over security in India. "We'll be making a judgement as to whether it's appropriate to compete, probably at the beginning of September, certainly not in December," Hunter added.
A number of high-profile names from the home nations will be absent from the 8,000 athletes from 71 nations due to compete in Delhi, but only because of the sporting calendar. Cycling's road world championships in Melbourne, the European athletics championships in Barcelona and the world gymnastics championships in Rotterdam are among the events taking place close to the Games.
That places doubts over the participation of the likes of cyclists Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, athletes Jessica Ennis, Kelly Sotherton, Phillips Idowu and Paula Radcliffe, as well as England's world champion gymnast Beth Tweddle. But no one has voiced their non-participation at the Games due to security fears. "The only athletes who are considering not competing are those with direct competition clashes," Hunter said.