Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Games shambles unfair to athletes

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These must be worrying times for our Commonwealth Games athletes, especially those whose sports are the bridesmaid codes.

For the cyclists, swimmers, netballers and sevens rugby teams, there will be other opportunities to compete at the highest level.

Competitors whose sports are part of well-funded global federations won't miss much if they choose to skip the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

But I feel for our gymnasts, archers, boxers and those young athletes looking to improve their world rankings to ensure more funding for their international campaigns.

They have trained long and hard, often working real jobs as well, to get to these Games. It must be heartbreaking to find, at the eleventh hour, that the organisation in Delhi is so chaotic it has put the event in jeopardy.

I'm writing this on Friday and by the time Sunday rolls around anything could have happened, given the fluid situation in Delhi, but at this stage our athletes are still attending although their arrival at the athletes' village will be delayed by a couple of days.

It's such a shame and a terrible embarrassment for the organising committee.

They've battled an outbreak of dengue fever, unprecedented monsoons, security fears after two tourists were shot near a major tourist attraction and a couple of structural collapses at the Games venues.

To be fair, every host country of major sporting events faces a last-ditch scramble to get to the starting line - the Greece Olympics, the football World Cup in South Africa, even our mates across the ditch in Sydney had their problems.

But it seems that the lack of preparedness hasn't been all bad luck and bumbling incompetence.

The Delhi organising committee appears to have successfully hoodwinked overseas officials by showing them an immaculate model tower and any attempts to see the actual accommodation were obstructed and evaded.

New Zealand's chef de mission Dave Currie says the biggest problem is that the Delhi organising committee has been in denial and now it is facing the result of its head-in-the-sand approach to these Games.

The Games are just as much about showcasing the host country as they are about the competition, and shame and opprobrium will be heaped upon the heads of those responsible for this fiasco.

I am not as concerned about the security issues as the hygiene ones.

Instant oblivion in a bomb blast would be preferable to a lifetime battling dysentery.

Still, it's up to our athletes to make the call - if you've sweated blood and tears for the past four years then I imagine you'll be on that plane, come what may.

But the elite athletes with other options may well give these Games a miss and, really, no one could blame them.

It's also a salutary lesson for any country bidding to host an international event ...

Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.

- Herald on Sunday

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