New Zealand refuse to confirm participation

In a development which has the potential to land a body blow to the controversy-marred Delhi Commonwealth Games, a top New Zealand official has refused to commit participation of Kiwi athletes till their safety concerns are addressed next month.
New Zealand Federation of Athletes chief Rob Nichol said that “hand on heart” he could not say whether his country would send a team to the Commonwealth Games.
“The biggest mistake we can make right now is forcing ourselves into a position where we have to make a decision,” Nichol said.

“There will come a point in the future where hard decisions will have to be made about whether it is go or no go. But at this stage it is premature to be focusing on those decisions,” he was quoted as saying by ‘New Zealand Herald’ newspaper.

“All our plans are around that (the Games will happen). Naturally we have contingencies because that’s just part of that plan. One of those contingencies could be that at any time we decide not to go because of changes we can’t foresee at the moment,” he said.
New Zealand Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley indicated his country could follow suit if Canada, Australia and British representatives decide to withdraw from the Games on security issues.

“It would be a significant red flag. We would want to talk with them very carefully as to their reasoning. We’d want to understand that and we would reflect on our position,” said Stanley.

According to the newspaper, the next milestone in terms of security assessment is around September 12, when a large group of officials head to Delhi for an advanced look at Games’ facilities, including the venues and the village.

“We’ve (NZFA) not been furnished with a copy of the Delhi police plan for the Games so I cannot put my hand on heart and say I know what’s going to be completed yet. The best thing we can do is to plan as if they are going to go ahead,” Nichol said.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed spokesperson of NZOC as saying that security officials had seen “broad police security plans around the Games, and they are in accordance with best international practice”.

“Now we’re looking forward to September to test the systems and their operational capability,” the spokesperson said.Asked about the delay in completion of Games’ facilities, Nichol said, “It’s no secret the Games have struggled in terms of preparation around facilities.

“How that manifests itself around security is that everything else off the back of it ends up getting delayed,” he said.

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