Commonwealth Games: Tight security rein won't be relaxed

By David Leggat

New Zealand officials aren't going to relent on their policy of keeping athletes under a tight security rein during the Commonwealth Games.

In the leadup to the Games, New Zealand Olympic Committee officials decided to restrict athletes inside the Games network of the athletes' village and their training and competition venues.

Moving outside that bubble was strongly discouraged on security grounds.

A week before the Games began, chef de mission Dave Currie said that while the cordon was likely to stay in place for the duration of the Games, if it was felt the concerns around security issues had eased, there might be a lifting of restrictions.

Currie ruled that out last night. "No, we will remain as we are," he said. One of the dangers was you start to relax and think everything is okay. "But nothing has changed to make things any different."

Athletes who have completed competition would ordinarily be able to get around and see the sights.

Young shooter Natalie Rooney, for example, has her parents in Delhi. They watched her compete in the top six shoot-off at the women's individual trap competition on Saturday night.

The Canterbury University accounting student has enjoyed her first Games experience, but admitted she'd like to have been able to see more of Delhi. "It's a little disappointing we aren't allowed out of the bubble to see a bit of India but it's been good," she said.

Rooney is not alone in her view, but although security is tight and there have been no incidents, Currie's view is why change things when all is well.

"We haven't had any real pressure to change it," he said of the policy.

The one alteration that has been made, partly as a compensation, is that family and friends have been able to enter the village's international zone.

"We don't normally let family and friends into the international zone, but they have come in and the athletes have been able to meet them."

Some athletes have taken the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal on specially arranged train trips.

The Games will finish with the closing ceremony early on Friday morning (NZT).

- NZ Herald

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