Deep in the Delhi doodoo, Dikshit prays for games

Sheila Dikshit

‘I’m just a small cog,’ says Sheila Dikshit, the woman with the toughest job in world sport

BY Eliot Sefton LAST UPDATED AT 12:34 ON Thu 23 Sep 2010

As a third nation delays sending its athletes to India for the Commonwealth Games, Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi, has told local media she "prays every night" for the games to go ahead smoothly.

Preparations have been beset with problems, with athletes claiming their accommodation is "not fit for human habitation" (see pictures of the athletes' village here), a collapsing footbridge and even a terrorist attack.

Earlier, Scotland and Canada announced they were delaying the departure of their teams for India to take part in the games. Today, New Zealand announced it will do the same.

On the bright side, England says it plans to go ahead and attend the games. Team England's chef de mission Craig Hunter says he is convinced the whole thing will come together at the last minute, "like an Indian wedding".

If only Dikshit were so confident. Speaking to the Hindustan Times, the woman with the toughest job in sport, said: "I pray every night for the success of the games. If we have been wrong or slack, we have to pay for it now. We cannot let the country down."

Dikshit is no ingenue, having served three successive terms as Delhi’s chief minister since 1998. She denies she led Delhi into the games without the full backing of her party, or that it was a mistake to take on the games. "It's a great honour to host the games,” she says. “Why are we all concluding that the games are a failure even before they have started?"

However, with problems mounting up, her confidence was belied when she added: "The buck does not stop with me. I'm one of the cogs in the wheel."


Terror attack On Saturday, two Taiwanese tourists were injured after a gunman opened fire on a coach near a historic Delhi mosque. An Islamist group claimed responsibility and threatened to further target the games.

Collapsing buildings On Tuesday, a footbridge built to take spectators to the games at the centrepiece Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed, injuring 27 people. Yesterday, "two or three" two-feet-square tiles fell from the ceiling of the weightlifting stadium. No one was injured.

Heavy rainsTorrential downpours have held up building works. "The rains are quite unbelievable," says England’s Craig Hunter. "We looked in some towers where, even with countries supposed to be moving in, there's no plaster on the walls, they are deep in water and extremely uninhabitable and quite dangerous in many respects."

Worried athletesMajor athletes including the triple jump and discus world champions, respectively Phillips Idowu of England and Dani Samuels of Australia, have pulled out citing concerns about health and safety. Others have withdrawn, officially for other reasons

Angry nationsScotland, Canada and New Zealand have thrown their participation in doubt, announcing they will delay their teams’ arrival until they are happy with the accommodation, with Scotland saying the athlete’s village was "not fit for human habitation".

The games are due to run from October 3 – 14. · 

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