Commonwealth Games: Athletes will be restricted to 'security bubble'

By David Leggat

New Zealand athletes won't be allowed outside the Commonwealth Games security bubble - and officials know that's going to draw some grumpy reactions.

The bubble takes in the athletes' village, the Games sports venues in New Delhi and the transport to and from them. Those are the areas given the heaviest security allocation.

It's going to mean a long couple of weeks for athletes who might have hoped to see some of the sights of the Indian capital, but chef de mission Dave Currie is unapologetic.

"No, they won't be going into Delhi itself, or leaving that bubble," he said last night.

"It's fair to say it's the first Games I've been involved in [going back to the 2000 Sydney Olympics] where that's been the position we've taken, and that's sad.

"One of the things about coming to a Games is enjoying the country you're in. That won't be happening this time."

Currie knows some sports teams or individuals won't take the news well.

"We'll talk to the athletes and their managers. It's something we're just going to have to deal with."

Currie said that instruction might be eased later in the Games, but didn't sound optimistic. "We'll see how things pan out," he said.

"In another week's time, if there is more comfort around changing that ... I just don't know. I suspect not.

"There are still some concerns round markets or soft targets," Currie said, adding that "most countries will take the same view as we are".

Currie said the New Zealand headquarters was taking shape and pronounced it "clean and tidy", a far cry from a week ago.

"It's going to be an ongoing challenge for us. From a security point we're okay.

"It's not a five-star hotel, but it's certainly clean and tidy. We are going to have to keep on top of that the whole time we're here."

Currie said there was no mistaking where the New Zealand contingent was housed in the village.

"We've got all our signage up, there's a fantastic banner of Sir Ed [Hillary] and Tensing [Norgay] on the outside of the building. There's no doubt when you come to the New Zealand part of the village that it's a bit of Aotearoa."

And Currie hit back at claims from under-fire organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi, who yesterday claimed that Western countries were involved in a conspiracy to undermine the Games.

"We've had the opportunity to watch local television and ... certainly there is far greater concern from the Indian community generally in what they see. It's being led by them, not the West."

New Zealand's badminton and gymnastics teams, along with synchronised swimming sisters Caitlin and Kirstin Anderson from Winton and several health officials, were arriving in the village last night to join the bowlers, archers and boxers already settled in.

* India's neighbour, Pakistan, with whom it shares a volatile relationship, is the latest nation to voice anger at the state of its Games village facilities.

"We have given 24 hours to the organisers to bring an improvement or give us a hotel to put up our athletes," Pakistan Olympic Association president Arif Hasan said.

However, the Pakistanis won't pull out of their first participation in a sports event in India since militant attacks on Mumbai in November 2008.

India has stopped sporting ties with Pakistan but will compete against them in multinational events.

- NZ Herald

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