New Delhi: The clock is ticking and the Delhi government is desperately trying to salvage the Commonwealth Games mess. A snake in the athletes living quarters in the Games Village is the latest headache for the Delhi Government.
A snake was found in a room in the residential tower, earmarked for the South African athletes, who have not arrived yet, said Commissioner Harris Mbulelo Mejeke.
"We can't go and stay till things are fixed up. We have very grave concerns. If snakes are found we can't ask our teams to stay there. Yesterday we found asnake but I don't know whether it was an Indian snake. But it was there in one of our rooms," Mejeke said.
"That was a threat to the lives of our athletes. Basically, the basement was full of water and the staircase was also damp," he said. However, the South African envoy said there team will not withdraw from the controversy-marred event.
At tower 22, where the South African contingent will be put up, last minute electrical and plumbing work is still on. Just a week left for the Games to begin, only 400 out of the 1168 flats that' will house nearly 7000 international athletes is ready. The Delhi Government has given itself another deadline to get the flats ready. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is desperately trying to clean up the Games Village mess, says she needs three more days.
The Chief Minister set Wednesday as the deadline for the Games Village to be ready and up to standards. But with international athletes pulling out of the Games citing health and security concerns, there is a lot that still needs to be done.
"Work is on track and I assure that all the cleanliness work will be done. All the flats will be handed over by Wednesday" said Sheila Dikshit.
Meanwhile, the pull outs continue - the latest being Britain's No 1 tennis player Elena Baltacha, who has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games because of concerns about disease and hygiene. Elena said she changed her mind after seeing pictures of the living conditions at the Games Village.
"It's just the hygiene, the Dengue fever, all that kind of stuff. It is a very high risk. All the nations are still unhappy," Elena told the 'Daily Telegraph'.
Australian cyclist Travis Meyer and Table Tennis player Stephane Sang too have pulled out of the Games, citing security and health reasons. Last week, discus world champion Dani Samuels had opted out of the Games. The Government though is downplaying the health worries.
With a lot of athletes citing dengue fears for pullling out - Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azaad has given a clarification saying that India has the least number of dengue cases as compared to other countries.
"I think there are least cases of Dengue cases in our country. There are more cases in countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia and various other countries. We are far behind compared to our neighbouring countries. Death tolls are also comparatively very low," said Azad.
Clearly the Government is on damage control mode. There was high security on Sunday at the IGI airport as athletes from various nations trickled into the National Capital. After England, the Australian, Scottish and Kenyan athletes have also arrived. The challenge for the Delhi Government is to provide a comfortable stay to all the athletes coming for the Games.