We were treated like cattle at CWG opener: Australian official

October 5th, 2010 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Oct 5 (IANS) Australian athletes were “treated like cattle” at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in New Delhi, said Australia’s chef de mission, adding they were forced to wait in a tunnel in “absolute cauldron conditions”.

Steven Moneghetti criticised the event organisers and said: “I was very, very disappointed with the way that the event staff conducted the ceremony
and with total disregard for athlete welfare.

“So extreme, that the athletes have lost confidence with the event organisers.

“It will impact on future Australian athletes’ involvement at the opening ceremony,” AAP quoted Moneghetti as telling reporters Tuesday.

The Australian contingent arrived at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium at around 4.30 p.m. Sunday and they had to wait under marquees on the warm-up track.

The official said that they were provided with drinks and a meal and then ushered into a tunnel under the stadium at around 6.25 p.m. They had to endure a wait until the team entered the official ceremony around 7.25.

“That’s one hour in absolute cauldron conditions… In fact, it was so bad they held us at a point that was very, very hot.

“It was unbearably hot, so we pushed forward. We pushed and we pushed about 50 metres which was even hotter.”

Though event staff told the contingent to remain there, Moneghetti said the athletes defied the order.

“We revolted, rioted and moved another 50 metres forward to which we entered an area that had reverse air conditioning, so it was hotter.

“It was over 40 degrees without a doubt. We were treated like cattle. It was disgraceful.”

Australia was the first team to enter the arena as it was the previous host to the Commonwealth Games. This, however, meant that they were among the teams in the tunnel for the longest period, The Age reported.

“Being first wasn’t the ideal place to be,” said Moneghetti who didn’t raise the issue Monday as he first wanted to speak to the Games Organising Committee (OC).

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