'Growing confidence' over Delhi Games attendance

There is "growing confidence" that Scottish athletes will be able to attend the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Sports Minister Shona Robison has said.

Scotland has delayed sending the national team amid concerns over safety, security and conditions.

Ms Robison told the Scottish Parliament that serious concerns still remained.

But she said the authorities were working to address the problem and a site visit would take place on Friday to assess progress.

Several top athletes have withdrawn from the games after a footbridge to the main stadium collapsed and the roof of the weightlifting venue fell in.

Team leaders from England, Wales, New Zealand, Australia and Canada have also expressed "grave concerns" over the accommodation for 6,500 members.

Ms Robison told MSPs that the chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, had now taken control and guaranteed action, ahead of an inspection of the athletes' village by the Commonwealth Games Federation on Friday morning.

And she said reports from the ground were that sporting venues for the games "seemed to be in reasonable order" and that there were "no additional security concerns to what was previously anticipated".

"Serious health and safety concerns still remain regarding the accommodation and the environment at the athletes' village in Delhi, and these must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the Indian authorities," said Ms Robison.

Taken control

But, responding to an emergency question from Labour MSP Bill Butler, the minister added: "There now appears to be growing confidence among the chefs de mission that things will now improve."

Backing the decision to delay the departure of the Scottish team, Ms Robison added: "I certainly expect that Team Scotland will fly to Delhi in time to compete in the games.

"I'm very confident indeed that the Scotland team will be in Delhi to participate."

Image caption Concern has been raised about poor conditions at the Commonwealth Games athletes' village in India

Team Scotland's representative in Delhi, Jon Doig, said: "We are heartened that Sheila Dikshit has personally taken control of the situation and ensuring that the necessary additional resources are brought in.

"We have continued to make progress addressing the maintenance and operational issues within our own accommodation block and things are looking much better.

"Therefore, subject to a number of assurances from the organising committee being realised over the next 24 hours, we feel we will be in a position to confirm tomorrow that our team will travel as scheduled on Saturday."

Meanwhile, former Glasgow lord provost Michael Kelly said Scottish athletes should attend the games in Delhi to avoid damaging the 2014 event in Glasgow.

He said it would be a financial disaster for Scotland if the the crisis-hit event impacted on the next games.

Mr Kelly told BBC Scotland: "I think the Scotland team must go. Of all the nations in the Commonwealth, Scotland must be there because Glasgow is holding the next games.

"We must ensure that, first of all, the mark of the Commonwealth Games is damaged as little as possible and, secondly, when the games go ahead in Glasgow there is not a resentful bite back from developing countries who maybe feel that we are trying to impose our standards on them."

Ms Robison said the Glasgow games would "absolutely be in a state of readiness".

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