Wellington: New Zealand officials in India anticipate a terrorist attack on a "soft target" ahead of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, according to a diplomatic note published today.
However, New Zealand Games chief Mike Stanley told athletes it was still too early to say whether it would be too dangerous to take part in the October event.
The possibility of a terrorist attack was detailed in diplomatic cables released to the Dominion Post newspaper relating to visits to New Delhi by New Zealand High Commission staff.
After one mission, between February 28 and March 13, officials told Wellington: "The pre-Games environment could be overshadowed by some form of 'soft target' attack such as the recent attack on the German bakery in Pune, which would be unsettling and capture media attention."
Seventeen people, including four foreigners, were killed and 65 injured in the February 13 attack on the bakery, located in a tourism hot-spot.
The Commonwealth Games would be held in "a high-threat environment", the officials in New Delhi said.
"The general security situation in India is stressed. Terrorist attacks, especially on softer targets are likely to continue."
New Zealand is sending 195 athletes and 100 officials to the Games and Stanley has told athletes they can pack their bags for New Delhi but may have to abort their journey if security considerations require it.
"At a point in time, we're going to have to say: 'Are we comfortable to have a team going to Delhi?' That time is not now, but that is certainly a decision we will take when we get people on the ground in India," Stanley said.
Sport Minister Murray McCully, who released the information, said the New Zealand government was treating security arrangements for the Games "very seriously".
A spokesman for Prime MinisterJohn Key said decisions on whether athletes should travel to India were up to the sporting bodies involved.
However, the government was keeping them advised of developments, and there was "high-level" communication between the sporting organisations, police and the prime minister's department. AFP