Spotlight turns to sports at Commonwealth Games

2010-10-04 10:01

As the spotlight finally turned to sports at the Commonwealth

Games, the prospect of contracting dengue fever is still a worry in New

Delhi.


Swimming was the first sport to get going today, the morning after

the games officially opened at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. But health issues,

one of the main concerns in the buildup to the games, came to fore at the

weekend when 30-year-old Indian lawn bowls team official Ruptu Gogoi was

admitted to hospital with the mosquito-borne dengue fever.


English freestyle swimmer Steven Beckerleg, however, said he wasn’t

that concerned about getting the disease.


“We’ve been seeing them spraying frequently,” Beckerleg said, “and

the fact that one person has acquired it really doesn’t worry me.”


The New Zealand team said: “We’ve got supplies of anti-repellents.

So far we haven’t seen too many mosquitoes but we’re continuing to apply

regularly.”


Dengue fever, a painful viral disease that can be life-threatening,

has become an issue in the Indian capital this year because of the extended

monsoon season.


About 3 500 cases of dengue fever have been reported in New Delhi

this year, and seven of the afflicted have died, the Press Trust of India

reported.


In the pool, there were five medal events scheduled for today.

English swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who won two gold medals for Britain at the

2008 Beijing Olympics, will swim in the 200m freestyle.


There were also medals to be won in weightlifting and

gymnastics.


Just getting to the first day of competition proved to be difficult

for organisers, who had to deal with construction delays, allegations of

corruption and security worries in only the second Commonwealth Games to be

staged in Asia.


Commonwealth Games Federation President Michael Fennell said: “The

preparation was filled with many challenges.”


Another problem facing organisers is ticket sales. Last week, the

government said only 200 000 of the 1.7 million tickets for the games had been

sold.


Today, several venues were nearly empty. At the 19 118-seat field

hockey stadium, only about 100 spectators came to watch New Zealand beat Wales

5-1 in the opening match of a tournament featuring India’s second-favourite

sport. Rohan Bopanna’s match to open the tennis competition drew only
dozens of

fans at the 5 015-seat venue.


This year’s Commonwealth Games bring together more than 6 000

athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories in the British

Commonwealth.


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