Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday said if next month's Delhi Commonwealth Games gets cancelled, it would not only have long-lasting implications on the quadrennial event's future but also damage the image of India.
"(Cancellation) of the Games would have significant implications on the future of the Commonwealth Games... and also wouldn't be good for India, and obviously fast-emerging nation that New Zealand has good relations with.
"(But) if they are to go ahead, from New Zealand's perspective, conditions have to be safe and sound for our people," Key told New Zealand radio.
Key, however, claimed that it was the security rather than the issues over the state of facilities that remain the "biggest concern" ahead of the October 3-14 Games.
Key clarified that any decision to withdraw from the Games would be "solely for the New Zealand Olympic Committee" and would not be taken unilaterally.
"I'm sure they will compare notes with other countries and in due course they'll make a decision they think is appropriate," he said.
"If an individual athlete decides they don't want to go for their own reasons, I would support them. At the end of the day they can make their own choices and whether they feel comfortable or not with the risks involved," he said.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's former 5000m world record holder and Olympic silver medallist Dick Quax also echoed Key's views, citing fears for the future of the Games and India's prestige.
Quax said that the incident of shooting on two tourists at Jama Masjid last weekend, squalor in the Athletes' Village and a bridge collapse at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, could mean an end for the already controversy-marred Delhi Games.
"This could signal the end of the Commonwealth Games. There's already a lot of people asking if they're still relevant and they're getting more and more expensive all the time," Quax told Radio NZ.
Yesterday, world champion athletes from England and Australia withdrew from the Games, citing health and security reasons.
Quax, who won silver in 1500m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, also criticised the Games' authorities for making the event look bigger than it actually was and let the government draw multi-billion dollar budget for the purpose.
"There are very few countries that are going to be able to hold the Commonwealth Games in the future," he said.
"It's probably going to be confined to three, maybe four, countries in the Commonwealth that can afford to hold them."
Quax added that the multi-sporting event has hampered India's reputation as an emerging economic superpower.
"Most of the blame needs to lie with the organising committee in Delhi, they needed to make sure that everything was ready," he said.
"This would be an extraordinary embarrassment for the Indian government, for the Delhi organisers, especially with India becoming an economic leader in the world."
Earlier, New Zealand team manager Dave Currie had said that the organisers would struggle to finish the preparations on time, and hence insisted that his 300-strong delegation be moved into a new area of the Games Village.
"If the Village is not ready and athletes can't come, obviously the implications of that are that (the event) is not going to happen," Currie had said. PTI