DELHI (Reuters) - The 2010 Commonwealth Games has been beset by a raft of problems -- including security, venue and health fears -- ever since Delhi were awarded the event in November 2003.
In the run-up to the Oct. 3-14 Games, the event which should have highlighted India as an emerging global power is threatening to turn into a national embarrassment.
Following is a timeline of events:
* Security in India is on high alert since gunmen attack a bus carrying Sri Lanka’s cricket team outside a Lahore stadium in Pakistan, killing seven people, including six policemen and a driver. Six of the team and a British coach are wounded.
* Triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt deals a blow to the Games when he pulls out because the event is taking place too late in the year.
* Quadruple Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy pulls out of Games due to clash of dates with the European cycling championships, which carry Olympic qualification points.
* The shooting range is damaged by heavy rains while monsoon downpours cause water to seep through the roof and walls of the swimming pool complex. A loose grill tripped and injured a swimmer at a test event.
* Sports minister MS Gill reveals that the estimated cost of staging the Games has escalated from 6.5 billion rupees ($142 million) to 115 billion.
* Three senior Delhi Games officials are suspended over financial irregularities during the Queen’s Baton Relay launch in London in 2009. The government’s anti-corruption watchdog identifies 16 projects where financial irregularities are suspected. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh orders an investigation into the corruption charges. Corruption is suspected in award of contracts and in hiring or purchase of equipment such as air conditioners and treadmills and even toilet paper, Indian media reported.
* With less than two months to go to the opening ceremony, much of the Indian capital resembles a building site. Piles of rubble and digging machines have squeezed even tighter the usual snarl of cars, rickshaws and bikes, upsetting residents.
* An outbreak of dengue fever is also cause for concern. Local media allege stagnant pools at construction sites have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, forcing organisers to double the number of hand-operated fogging machines used in the Games Village area.
* Two Indian state-run firms withdraw their sponsorship due to “negative publicity” of the event stemming from allegations of graft and mismanagement.
* Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser advises her compatriots to consider boycotting the event as she fears the security situation could turn the Games into “another Munich”, referring to the 1972 Olympic attacks in which 11 Israeli team members were taken hostage and killed by Palestinian gunmen.
* Kenya’s David Rudisha pulls out citing fatigue after breaking the 800 metres world record twice in August.
* Games ambassador and world badminton number three Saina Nehwal, India’s most high-profile female athlete, criticises the preparation for the Games.
“Looking at the stadiums and looking at the progress, I don’t really think we are capable of holding such big tournaments,” she said.
“I have seen many games like Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the Olympic Games in China. Compared to that, it’s not up to the mark. I‘m sure before October 3, it will be ready and people will like it but in comparison to those Games, things are not up to the mark.”
She backtracks on her comments hours later, however.
“I want to take back my statement,” she said. “I am very, very sorry about it. Being a brand ambassador, it’s not good to say such things.”
* Security fears are highlighted just 13 days before the Games begin following the shooting of two foreign visitors by suspected militants near India’s main mosque in Old Delhi. A car also explodes at the same place.
* A day after the shooting, a footbridge being built just outside the main stadium collapses, highlighting India’s lax construction standards. Twenty seven people are injured.
* Concerns over security and health force discus world champion Dani Samuels of Australia to pull out of the Games.
* Commonwealth Games Federation president Michael Fennell said the two-week event is seriously compromised by conditions at the Games village that have “shocked the majority.” Complaints from team officials ranging from cleanliness to Internet access at the athletes’ village further embarrass organisers.
(Compiled by Pritha Sarkar; editing by Ed Osmond; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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