Full, filthy extent of Delhi disgrace exposed
COVERED in filth and debris, with some areas cordoned off with tape, it looks more like a crime scene than accommodation for elite athletes in pursuit of Commonwealth Games glory.
• The child of a labourer cuts a pathetic figure before a banner for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi yesterday
But the shocking photographs published by Team Scotland officials reveal the grim scenes that greeted them when they arrived in Delhi's athletes' village.
The pictures, taken by members of the team management, offer damning evidence of filthy conditions days before the first athletes were due to arrive.
While Scottish competitors have since been offered alternative accommodation, team leaders say the images "clearly demonstrate the validity of (their] concerns" about the condition of the competitors' village.
The release of the photos comes as Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) is expected to confirm today that the vanguard of the nation's athletes will depart for Delhi tomorrow, after receiving guarantees from the Indian government that it has "taken control" of the beleaguered event, with top hoteliers brought in to oversee the cleanliness of the site.
But the filth in the photographs shows the work required to get the site up to standard.
Michael Cavanagh, chairman of GCS, said the team had had the photos "for a few days" and had wanted to release them earlier, but had chosen not to to avoid exacerbating the situation.
They had changed their minds as others began to question the team's decision to delay sending its athletes.
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While the photographs do not show the actual accommodation allocated to Scotland, team officials said they reflected the standard of rooms offered.
"Those are photos of a similar standard accommodation to what we were offered on arrival just over a week ago," Mr Cavanagh said. "That tower block, we absolutely point blank refused to go to."
The images depict problems inside rooms and in the walkways and communal areas.
Photographs of bathrooms that athletes will use reveal sanitation concerns, with filth-covered, leaking toilets, dusty blocked sinks and brown stains smeared over a shower cubicle and basin, apparently the result of flooding.
One shows a yellow mattress stained with what look like muddy paw prints of a dog. Stray animals have been reported to be wandering around the village site, and the image suggests they have got into accommodation quarters. Some of the images show workers with vacuum cleaners, but the task facing them is vast, with piles of rubbish in view.
Thoroughfares in the village appear to contain innumerable hazards, with exposed wiring on cracked pavements, and loose masonry scattered around.The glass barrier of one balcony is shattered, while other balconies on floors several storeys high have no glass at all.
The area in front of one stained, flooded stairwell is cordoned off with red and white tape, while other areas are covered with weeds and shards of brick and concrete.
"I think what was starting to upset us were comments by people on the organising committee, almost suggesting we were exaggerating," Mr Cavanagh said.
"People can see for themselves now. Those pictures vindicate the stance we all took."
A spokeswoman for Team Scotland noted that "significant progress" had been made since the pictures were taken "a number of days ago".
Liz McColgan, who won gold for Scotland in the 10,000 metres at the 1986 and 1990 Games, told The Scotsman: "The conditions are the last thing any athlete wants to think about. It's very unfair that these problems are still in place with just over a week to go.
"You need clean accommodation when you're competing, you want to be chilled out and relaxed. But if there's filth where you're sleeping, it's a real worry, and I can understand why some of the English team have pulled out.
"The blame has to lie with the Delhi Organising Committee which has said all along the facilities will be finished and habitable."
However, she added that Scotland's athletes would simply try to do their best in the circumstances: "You need to be strong mentally to deal with mishaps. They have been training for two to three years for the Games, and although they will not be happy, they will make do.
"When push comes to shove, you'd rather be competing than not competing."
Allan Wells, a multiple gold medal winner for Scotland at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, said: "I don't think anybody would go in those conditions. From what I can see, the drains have gone up into the sink and the shower areas. The Games couldn't go ahead if the accommodation is still in this condition, it's a health issue."
However, he said the intervention of the Indian government would ensure money is "thrown" at the village in the coming week, adding: "Let's hope this is the end of it.
"I think the Games will happen, but you have to look at the whole management structure behind Delhi."
Chris Black, a hammer thrower who competed in four Commonwealth Games, winning bronze medals in 1978 and 1982, said he expected there would be "jiggery pokery" over the coming days in order to ensure Scots are in satisfactory accommodation.
Mr Black, who will be heading out to Delhi as a coach with the hammer team, said: "I'm staying at a five-star hotel, and maybe the accommodation will be shared with some of the athletes if it comes to it. I'm sure there will be folk getting moved around."
However, some Scots athletes due to compete told The Scotsman that they were not travelling to Delhi on holiday in anticipation of finding "five-star accommodation".Donna Robertson from Hamilton, who will be competing in the wrestling event with twin sister, Fiona, said: "The athletes' village does prey on your mind, but I think scaremongering happens with these kinds of big events. I know there are issues to be dealt with, but we have trained in countries where conditions aren't the best."
Ms Robertson, who picked up a judo bronze medal in Auckland in 1990 as a 21-year-old, added: "We're not expecting five-star accommodation, and we're not going to Delhi on holiday."
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