WG: Army told it can't attend Closing Ceremony
Sidharth Pandey, NDTVNew Delhi: For more than a month, 1500 people from the Army have worked overtime for the Commonwealth Games. Their to-do list has included managing venues used for the games, handling protocol requirements with the international contingents in town, and stepping in to rebuild a crucial bridge in record time after it collapsed days before the Games began.
For all this, the Army is not being compensated. The organisers of the Games reneged on a promise to cover basic expenses like transport and cellphones for the jawans and officers enlisted for the event. The bill of 11 crores, the Defence Minister was told recently, would have to be covered by the defence budget because the organisers had run out of money.
During the Games so far, the Army has contributed 23 medals, including eight golds, for India.
Earlier this month, it booked 300 tickets for Thursday's closing ceremony; last week, it deposited four lakhs for the same tickets.
But now, they've been told the closing ceremony is off-limits. The Organising Committee, headed by Suresh Kalmadi, has said it has run out of tickets.
"The armed forces have played a major role in the CWG. If they face any problems, I will look into it," said Kalmadi.
One of the lowlights of the Games has been the skimpy audiences - sportspersons performed in near-empty stadia, a fact brought up repeatedly by the international officials of the Commonwealth Games Federation. Yet, tickets are not available for most events - complimentary passes seem to be the only entry point to venues.