Canada stands on guard for other countries

With the first members of the Canadian squad set to arrive Monday at the Commonwealth Games, officials say the rooms in the troubled athletes’ village are finally ready.

NEW DELHI — With the first members of the Canadian squad set to arrive Monday at the Commonwealth Games, officials say the rooms in the troubled athletes’ village are finally ready.

But as potential problems seem to be clearing up for Canadian athletes and coaches, other countries are finding themselves in need of someone in their corner, the president of Commonwealth Games Canada said Sunday.

Dr. Andrew Pipe says teams from other Commonwealth nations just arriving in New Delhi haven’t had the advantage of an advance team like Canada’s.

“We think it’s very important for us to be advocating on their behalf,” Pipe said in a conference call. “We will continue to be resolute in trying to address the inertia which has surrounded the preparation of the Games village for our colleagues.”

Canada’s Chef de Mission Martha Deacon said she spoke to her counterparts in some Caribbean countries Saturday and was able to let them know about the present challenges and conditions.

“Ultimately every country wants to have their athletes successful in the very best environment they can be,” Deacon said during the same call on Sunday.

The Commonwealth Games, which begin on Oct. 3, have been plagued with problems, especially in the athletes’ village.

In the past five or six days, an advance Canadian team has been able to inspect and clear accommodations for the athletes and coaches in the village.

Pipe said some 90 beds have been approved, with another 30 awaiting inspection. He added that all four elevators in the building housing the athletes are now operational.

“For the first time members of the Canadian team are sleeping in the village,” Pipe said.

He said Canadian organizers have received copies of building certificates confirming fire and structural safety.

But even as the situation seems to be improving, the Canadian team is finding itself taking on even more responsibility.

Pipe said the host country, organizing committee and authorities responsible for the Games “have constantly and consistently been advised of deficiencies that were evident to all.”

“Despite strenuous entreaties, cajoling, threats — the amount of indifference that was demonstrated to this advice was stupefying.”

The Canadian team will now have their own staff providing 24-hour security to athletes and coaches in the village. Canadian organizers are also working closely with the Indian drivers hired to transport athletes to make sure the drivers understand their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, two more Australian athletes withdrew Sunday and a South African competitor reportedly found a snake in his room as complaints over cleanliness, security and construction continued to dog the troubled event.

Pipe said reports about the snake are being investigated for authenticity.

While international sports officials have said the situation had improved dramatically in the athletes’ village over the past couple days — after inspections last week turned up rooms spattered with chewing tobacco and human excrement — some teams said the situation remained grim.

Tuelo Serufho, head of the Botswana contingent, told Press Trust of India that his team’s rooms in the village were “unlivable for our athletes,” with filthy bedsheets, bathroom fixtures that did not work and construction debris yet to be cleared away.