Commonwealth Crisis: Arena Ceiling Collapses

The Commonwealth Games in India have been thrown into more chaos after a ceiling fell in at the weightlifting arena – a day after a bridge collapsed, injuring 27 people.

The latest calamity comes as Scotland said it was delaying sending its athletes to Delhi over health and safety fears, and Wales gave organisers a deadline of this evening to confirm whether the venues are fit for purpose.

In another development, Mike Fennell, the Games’ federation chief, announced he was travelling to the Indian capital for emergency talks. Some of the world’s top athletes have already pulled out amid widespread anger over India’s last-minute preparations for the Games, which are due to start in 11 days. Buildings are unfinished, two structures have now collapsed at the main stadium, and the athlete’s village is said to be filthy. On Monday, 27 people were injured – five critically – when a footbridge linking a parking area with the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed. In another embarrassment, a false ceiling came down on Tuesday at the stadium’s 2,500-capacity weighlifting arena. No-one was injured.

The shooting of two foreign visitors by suspected militants combined with a dengue fever epidemic, heavy monsoon rains, delayed construction, and traffic chaos have only added to the fears.Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, told Sky News he had decided to delay sending his team because Indian officials “hadn’t done enough to make the athletes’ village safe.” He said he had spoken to the chiefs of other countries taking part and they all had the same concerns. But he added: “We’re doing everything in our power to make sure Scotland goes to the Games.” England’s participation has also been thrown into doubt with officials demanding guarantees about safety.

Around 8,000 athletes from Britain and its former colonies are due to take part in the competition. Triple-jumper Phillips Idowu pulled out citing “safety concerns”, as has Australia’s discus world champion Dani Samuels – and more top stars are expected to follow. Samuels said: “I believe there are too many potential hazards to my health and life.” The Australian government has said it is confident India can sort out the problems in time – but admits there are concerns about the safety of its athletes. Sky News Australia correspondent Ian Woods said there have been direct threats against Australian sportsmen in retaliation at the racist attacks on Indian students in Melbourne. Sky News sports editor Nick Powell said if more big names do pull out, and the problems get worse, it could spell the end of the Commonwealth Games.  – Skynews