|A worker cleans a billboard outside the Commonwealth Games athletes village in New Delhi on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma)
OTTAWA-Two archers have become the first Canadian athletes to pull out of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, citing health and safety concerns.
Kevin Tataryn and Dietmar Trillus withdrew from the international competition Wednesday morning due to conditions at Athletes’ village, said Scott Ogilvie, Archery Canada’s executive director.
Ogilvie said their personal decision was “unfortunate” since the rest of the 10-member team is still expected to depart Tuesday.
Sport associations with athletes readying for departure are waiting for the green light from Commonwealth Games Canada's (CGC) staff already in Delhi.
Field Hockey Canada’s Andrea Guzzo said the women’s team had delayed their Thursday departure to Monday, hoping conditions would improve.
The male members of Canada’s artistic gymnastics team have also postponed their Thursday departure after CGC’s advise.
“Everyone is worried,” said Gymnastics Canada’s President and CEO Jean-Paul Caron.
Thomas Jones, CGC’s chief executive officer, told QMI Agency Tuesday the conditions in the Athletes’ village are far from acceptable.
Toilets are plugged, workers had left human feces everywhere, doors and windows didn’t shut and electrical outlets needed to be finished, he said.
More bad news arrived Wednesday after chunks from a false ceiling in the weightlifting venue came tumbling down. Tuesday, a footbridge collapsed and injured at least 27 people.
Though disappointed at missing what would have been his first multi-sport competition, Tataryn suggested Wednesday that the decision to stay home was easy to make in light of the health concerns. “I’m 100% out. I have no regrets, looking at it,” Tataryn told QMI Agency.
“I was looking forward to going. But on the flip-side, I don’t want to go anywhere where my safety or health are in question.” Tataryn said he and other archers were assured in July that “everything would be good to go” for the Games facilities. “But today, it doesn’t seem like that with bridges falling down," he said.
"And on one of the stadiums, the roof is coming apart.” In addition, he said, security concerns have emerged at the Athletes'
“I’ve heard that a couple of people off the street have just walked right through into the Athletes' village with large briefcases,” he said. “No security stopped them, or anything like that.” NDP MP Glenn Thibeault said the Canadian government should have the “guts” to pull its athletes out of the Games if concerns aren’t addressed.
“It doesn’t do us any good if we send our athletes over there and we lose a bunch of them due to failing infrastructure,” he said.
A number of big-name athletes have already pulled out, including Australian world champion discus thrower Dani Samuels.
The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to begin Oct. 3.