Games in Chaos as Athletes Refuse to Go to India

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Byline: David Williams Chief Reporter

THREE of England's biggest athletics stars pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in India last night as the chaotic [pounds sterling]1.5billion event edged closer to being cancelled.

Olympic 400m gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu, world champion triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Commonwealth 1500m champion Lisa Dobriskey said they would not go to Delhi.

Their decision came after a disastrous day in India which saw a footbridge near the main stadium collapse during construction and teams describe accommodation in the athletes' village as unfit for human habitation.

The build up to the October 3 opening ceremony has already been plagued by construction delays, allegations of corruption, terror threats - gunmen wounded tourists near a Delhi mosque at the weekend - an outbreak of dengue fever and monsoons. But yesterday's events were shambolic, prompting New Zealand to break ranks and suggest the Games should be cancelled.

The 100-metre bridge near the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium - the main venue for the Games - fell down as labourers were applying a concrete layer to the structure, injuring 23 people, five seriously.

Its collapse came hours after team leaders from England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Australia and Canada admitted 'grave concerns' over the accommodation for team members with calls for 'urgent work' to be carried out to save the controversial [pounds sterling]1.5billion Games.

Last night, the security situation in Delhi was also under close scrutiny ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who are travelling to the opening ceremony on behalf of the Queen.

Seven years after Delhi was awarded the Games officials complain of leaking toilets which don't flush, piles of rubble in bathrooms and electrical faults.

Michael Cavanagh, chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said : 'Very soon, 6,500 people from 61 countries will be coming and we have real concerns about whether they can be accommodated. …