Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Open Ceremony to be best in the world

Commonwealth Games organizers can't be faulted for confidence, promising the best opening ceremony the world has seen.

Even London 2012 Olympic organizers admitted it would be virtually impossible to surpass the grandeur and spectacle of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening.

But not T.S. Darbari, joint director general of the Organizing Committee to the Commonwealth Games 2010, who is visiting Australia with the Queen's baton relay ahead of the October 3-14 Games.

"The opening ceremony, the way it has been planned, it'll be the best ever," Darbari told .
"Better than Melbourne, better than any Commonwealth Games, better than Beijing - it's a guarantee."

Games organizers are facing a tight struggle to get their venues completed with the main stadium, swimming complex and cycling venue suffering construction delays and the monsoon season hitting India as early as June.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper in March estimated it could be as late as July until the outstanding venues are completed.

Darbari said construction has been accelerated in the past two months to finish work by June, allowing for test events to be held.

"It's going to be tight but it will happen," he said.

He challenged reports that more than 40 people had died during construction efforts and characterized delays by saying: "Minor incidents keep on happening".

India's Games budget has blown out from $US1.2 billion ($A1.3 billion) to $US2 billion ($A2.2 billion).

Darbari said: "So what. It happens everywhere."

Money is no object since the Indian government and business leaders are leveraging the Games to showcase an international trade and investment campaign targeted at many of the 70 participating countries.

Darbari estimates the Games alone will generate about $US5 billion ($A5.4 billion) of activity for India.

"The Games can be used not only for promoting harmony, peace, friendship and cooperation but also for forging very strong economic ties and enhancing and creating economic relationships," he said.

He also said the test events taking place at the 17 sporting venues will allow for any final adjustments before the games commence.