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More Athletes To Pull Out Of CWG But We Are Taking Part, Says Minister

Melbourne, Sep 22: Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib today said more athletes are likely to pull out of the scandal-hit Commonwealth Games in India but his country is committed to take part in next month's
PTI September 22, 2010 11:33 IST
PTI
Melbourne, Sep 22: Australian Sports Minister Mark Arbib today said more athletes are likely to pull out of the scandal-hit Commonwealth Games in India but his country is committed to take part in next month's multi-sporting event.

Australian world discus champion Dani Samuels yesterday pulled out of the CWG citing security and health concerns and Arbib said he has been told by his country's top officials of more athletes pulling out following the preparation crisis to the Games in India.

The build-up to the Games is being plagued by complaints over unhygienic conditions at the Games Village while a footbridge near the main venue collapsed yesterday. Before that in a firing incident two foreign tourists were injured on Sunday.

Arbib said he had a long conversation with Australian Commonwealth Games Association boss Perry Crosswhite, who said more athletes are likely to pull out.

"He didn't have any information about any athletes, but he thought there could be a number more who could make that decision (to withdraw)," Arbib told reporters in Sydney.

"His (Crosswhite's) view is that while there is work to be done in the Australian quarters, that work can be done by September 27," Arbib said.

Arbib said he respected the decision of Samuels to pull out of the Games but there were no plans for Australia to withdraw and he would travel to New Delhi to represent the government.

"She (Samuels) has taken the time and read the advice - I respect that decision and every individual really needs to make that decision for themselves. We are telling any athlete who is travelling to make sure they understand the security risk and make sure they display caution overseas."

"The decision on whether to travel to India for the Commonwealth Games is one for individuals to make. The government cannot tell people not to compete. It can't tell parents not to attend," he said.

Arbib said the Australian government was working closely with the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, the Australian High Commission, Indian officials and authorities from England, New Zealand and Canada.

The safety of Australian athletes was paramount and there will be restrictions on where athletes travel while in New Delhi for the Games, he said while urging all Australians to follow the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's travel advice, which urges a high degree of caution for travellers.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd also urged Australians to pay close attention to a travel alert warning of a "high risk of terrorist attack" in New Delhi during the Games.

"It's important for all Australians to pay close attention to the travel advisory that's been issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs," the Foreign Minister was quoted as saying by 'The Australian'.

"The travel advisory speaks for itself and it is not a document that is put together lightly," he said pointing out that the advice of DFAT has been revised to "high risk" travel warning following the weekend shooting of two foreigners outside Delhi's Jama Masjid, the capital's largest mosque.

Australia's 1990 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jame Flemming also expected more athletes to withdraw.

The fact that someone of Dani's stature (has withdrawn) I'm sure is making a whole lot of others question their attendance," Flemming said.

"It would not surprise me if we now see a whole flux of withdrawals."

However, a Swimming Australia official said today there had been "no indication from any swimmers that they are looking to pull out of the Games". PTI