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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Games Not As Friendly

VICTORIA, British Columbia -- The Commonwealth Games, known as the "Friendly Games," lost some of its warmth when the head of the Australian team said the inclusion of disabled athletes was "an embarrassment."


Arthur Tunstall was roundly criticized Wednesday by organizers, disabled athletes and even his own countrymen after his remarks were reported on the day before the Games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.


"It's got to be an embarrassment because people are going out of their way to assist them and the abled people are a little bit embarrassed to have them around," Tunstall said.


While competitors and officials continued to arrive Wednesday, it became the hot issue of the day.


Even the Queen's son, Prince Edward, was asked about it but declined comment.


Others, including George Heller, president of the Victoria Commonwealth Games Society, did, however.


"Arthur Tunstall does not represent the majority of Australians, and this is embarrassing for him to say," Heller told a news conference. "He's in a minority of one. These athletes are far from being an embarrassment. They are an inspiration to all of us to get on with our lives."


Helene Simard, a broadcaster and member of the Canadian team that won the basketball title at the 1992 Paralympics, said she was shocked by Tunstall's comments.


"He's back in the '20s. This is 1994," she said. "He should get with the times."


Tunstall eventually came up with a statement in which he apologized but also said his earlier comment had been taken out of context.


Apart from being the first major event to integrate able-bodied and disabled athletes, the 15th Commonwealth Games is remarkable for including another group of competitors: South Africa has returned after an absence of 36 years. It's 112-member team is integrated.