The Commonwealth Games Federation says it must trust that documentation proving the safety of Games buildings are genuine and the athletes’ village are safe to occupy, as a false ceiling in Delhi’s main venue arena collapses, just hours after a bridge there collapsed.
A footbridge at the main venue, the Jawarharlal Nerhu Stadium, collapsed on Tuesday during construction and left 23 labourers injured, some critical.
Just hours later, a false ceiling in the Weighlifting arena of the same stadium also collapsed, the Times of India reports.
The most recent disasters come less than two weeks before the Games kick off in New Delhi from October 3-14.
On Sunday, two Taiwanese nationals were injured during a shooting at Jama Masjid mosque and team officials from five nations, including Australia and New Zealand, have complained about the hygiene and operational standards of the athletes’ village.
CGF chief executive Mike Hooper says he must accept as fact that occupancy certificates supplied to him in early September by Indian officials were bona fide documents.
“I’m no expert but if I was in Australia or presumably somewhere else and a government agency has given me a sign-off that a venue has passed all regulatory approvals … then I have to accept their word,” Mr Hooper told AAP from Delhi.
“We have to accept that they’ve done their job.”
Dodgy practices long-suspected
In late July, India’s anti-corruption watchdog threatened to derail preparations for the Games by citing suspected dodgy building practices and making accusations that construction firms had inflated their costs.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inspected 15 roadway projects and sporting venues and found substandard concrete and steel works.
The watchdog also revealed that regulatory approvals for the work had been forged.
Mr Hooper demanded the Indian government produce occupancy certificates to confirm the venues met regulatory building requirements and were safe to occupy.
The Organising Committee missed two deadlines in August to supply the certificates but eventually produced them to the CGF in early September.
Work in progress
On Wednesday, Mr Hooper would not speculate that work on the collapsed footbridge was rushed in time for the Games or was of substandard construction.
“It’s work in progress, it’s under construction so I can’t preempt or judge what caused the fall,” Mr Hooper said.
“Clearly, it was under construction and something went wrong and obviously it didn’t have regulatory approvals signed off as yet for
CGF president Mike Fennell has departed from his home country of Jamaica and is due to arrive in Delhi on Thursday to address the problems with the athletes’ village and final preparations for the Games.
“He’s asked for a meeting with the prime minister when he gets here to go over things,” Mr Hooper said.
“I think his presence here will really re-emphasise how serious the problem is with the cleanliness of the Games’ village and the standard of the accommodation.
Mr Hooper has been with the CGF for 11 years and has been involved with the Games for the past two decades.
He said no Games’ preparations have resulted in more issues than what has surfaced in Delhi.
“There will be other issues that we need to focus on but at the moment that’s the priority,” Mr Hooper said.
“I don’t pull any punches. I tell it like it is when issues come up.”