Thousands of tckets unsold for Games

Thousands of tickets remained unsold for the Delhi Commonwealth Games Wednesday, just four days before they begin, with the troubled event also hit by another pullout from a star athlete.

Tickets in all categories were available for most sports during the October 3-14 sporting showpiece, with places still on sale even for the opening and closing ceremonies and the 100-metre finals.

About two million tickets were put on sale for the multi-sport Games, but rumour’s have long circulated in the capital that the response has been lacklustre amid delays in final ising the sales network.

Tickets ranging from 200 rupees (4.4 dollars) to 1##000 rupees are on sale for the 100-metre men’s final on October 7, normally the highlight of the athletics, while all prices are also on offer for the swimming finals.

“Sales have picked up a bit in the last 10 days,” said a saleswoman in the official ticket service after confirming availability for all the major events. Organizers have declined to release sales figures.

The slow take-up of tickets could reflect the absence of major crowd-pulling stars such as Jamaican sprinter Usa in Bolt or marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe.

World 800 champion Caster Semenya pulled out of the Games on Tuesday because of a back injury, stripping the event of one of its few high-profile names in athletics.

The 19-year-old was the subject of controversial probe by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) into her gender that saw her sidelined for almost 11 months.

Team South Africa’s chief medical officer Shuaib Manjra said that Semenya underwent medical tests in Johannesburg on Tuesday and scans confirmed a back injury.

“Semenya also confirmed that she had been suffering serious lower back pain and had not been comfortable during her last few races,” said a statement by the South Africa Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

Army of workers
The Games, which open on Sunday, had teetered on the brink of collapse last week when some nations threatened to pull out amid worries about security, a bridge falling down, and the standard of accommodation and venues.

Problems plaguing the games include an outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever, and doubts about transport, fire and evacuation procedures and medical services.

An army of manual workers has been drafted in to tackle filthy apartments and builders’ rubbish at the village, which is now vastly improved to the apparent satisfaction of participating countries.

Organisers have promised that all the accommodation will be finished by Wednesday and that full security is now in place to protect venues and participants.

The shambolic run-up to Commonwealth Games has dashed India’s hopes of showcasing itself as a dynamic emerging superpower and delivering an event to rival the spectacular Beijing Olympics, analysts say.

Instead the country’s old image of inefficient bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, graft and squalor has once again been broadcast around the world, and local media have tagged the event India’s “Shame Games”.

“We believe tourism will not suffer much, since tourists who visit India have mostly factored in the India of yore, with snake charmers, and its dirt,” said Robinder Sachdev, president of Indian image consultancy Imagindia.

“But large-scale business and investment decisions in boardrooms will certainly be impacted by this colossal display of ineptitude,” said Sachdev.


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