“We had some problems at first, but there’ve been no dramas in the last couple of days,” said Bryn Vaile, spokesman for the England team. “Nothing really severe.”
Malaysia, hosting the first Games in Asia, has spent millions of dollars on facilities and infrastructure for the 15 sports, and getting it right is a matter of national pride.
Organisers have laid on hundreds of buses to ferry 4,000 athletes from 70 countries and territories between the Games Village on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and sports venues dotted around the city.
But Kuala Lumpur’s clogged roads and a shortage of buses have delayed some teams and left others stranded.
Hashim Ali, chairman of the Games organisers, said on Wednesday transport was high the list of problems that needed to be addressed ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday.
“There is a problem with transport,” Werriwon Godfred, a Cameroon official, told Reuters. “Some of the drivers they have don’t know the town very well, and they get lost … they take around two to three hours to get somewhere.”
Ngapaku Ngapaku, a member of the Cook Islands rugby squad, said training had been affected by transport hiccups.
“The Tonga team had to cancel their training session yesterday … their bus didn’t turn up.” He said the Cook Islanders had ended up sharing a bus with four other teams after waiting more than an hour for their transport.
Journalists at the Games have been another group disaffected by the transport arrangements. The short journey from the Games Village to the main press centre, surrounded by a concrete jungle of dual-carriageways and railway tracks, can take an hour or more.
“There’s always been a slow start up (at Commonwealth Games),” said Rob Thornton, in charge of transport for the Australian team.
“In some ways things here are the best I’ve seen…our bags were here from the airport before the athletes. It’s a good lesson for Sydney,” where the 2000 Olympics will be held.