Security and readiness doubts remain on Delhi Games

The BBC has finally agreed to show this October’s Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, despite hefty reservations surrounding security and the venues’ readiness.

According to a report in today’s Guardian, an agreement was reached with the Games’s London-based agents. There has been a BBC Sport delegation in the Indian capital in the past week, inspecting venues, which recent photographs show to be still a long way short of readiness. The picture above right shows the main stadium in Delhi, where the Opening Ceremony is due to be staged on October 3, less than six months away.

Concerns over security remain high. On Saturday there was a double bomb blast at an Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match in Bangalore, injuring 14.

In November 2008, more than 300 were killed in a series of bombings and terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and that attack is believed to have been a strong factor in several high-profile competitors from the UK opting not to include this year’s Commonwealth Games in their competition plans.

Commonwealth Games England maintains that it still intends to compete at the Delhi Games. “The safety of everyone who is part of the England team is of paramount importance to Commonwealth Games England,” said a spokeswoman. “It is England’s intention to compete at the Games.”

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Games Scotland said it would continue to monitor the security situation. “Security is a priority for us, as it is at every Games. We will continue to monitor it and take advice from the Commonwealth Games Federation, the organisers and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All of the home nations have also been receiving support from the Metropolitan Police,” she said.

Last month, the national chefs de mission visited Delhi during hockey, bowls and archery test events, and although the attending press had some reservations, officials reported back confidently on all aspects of preparation.

The BBC is believed to have driven a very hard bargain with the broadcast rights agency, continuing negotiations long after the deadline for agreement. Given the lateness of the deal and the priority to be given to coverage of the football World Cup during the summer, BBC Sport’s team seems likely to be extremely busy in the next few weeks.

At least they now know that double Olympic gold medallist – and former SJA Sportswoman of the Year – Rebecca Adlington will be in Delhi, after she was named yesterday in the first batch of England’s swimming team.

Adlington and her 28 team mates named yesterday might be a little shocked at photographs taken in the past week of the swimming pool (above), which like the main stadium, appears a long way short of championship readiness. Certainly, neither of the two key venues appear likely to stage any of the normal trial events immediately, as would usually be expected.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games take place in Delhi, India, from 3 to 14 October 2010. They will feature 17 sports – archery, aquatics (swimming, synchronised swimming and diving), athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby 7s, shooting, squash, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

Click here for more recent articles on journalism, sport and sports journalism

Join the SJA today – click here for details and membership application form