Thursday, April 22, 2010

4000 Troops to Escort Athletes to and from Venues

India's Ministry of Defense had originally been asked to provide 300 troops for marshalling duties during the 11-day games.

But the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee revealed yesterday it had asked the country's security forces this week to increase its presence to almost 4000 to escort athletes to and from venues.

The Indian cabinet was due to consider the request last night, which will require the armed forces to redeploy personnel from other states at a time when the country is facing a heightened threat from Maoist rebels waging an insurgency across large parts of India.

The additional measures are unlikely to assuage the fears of Australian athletes, however, who this week expressed concern for the safety of those not covered by high-level Games security - including families, friends and other spectators.

Among those to express fears was retired swimming great Kieren Perkins who: "I've got family, I've got kids and I'm not going to be risking my life for a sporting event."

While Saturday's bomb blast at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium - which injured eight people - was small in comparison to a February attack in Pune that killed 17 people, it has raised fresh doubts about India's ability to make the event secure.