The countdown to the Commonwealth Games 2010 has finally began. On June 25, the Queen’s Baton Relay comes back to India via the Wagah-Attari border from Pakistan after almost eight months. This will start the last leg of the journey culminating in Delhi on October 3, at the opening ceremony of the Delhi Games 2010.
The baton, which has traveled 70 countries and 1, 70,000km in 240 days, will be visiting 200 cities in 28 states and seven union territories on its 100 days’ trip through the country. The baton will be welcomed on Friday by the chief minister of the host city, Sheila Dikshit, as well as the IOC president and organizing committee (OC) head, Suresh Kalmadi. The CM of Punjab along with a host of other dignitaries will also be present at the welcoming function.
While OC officials refused to name the sportspersons who will be the baton bearer, Kalmadi claimed it would be a decision taken by the state government, what is apparent is the elaborate plans in the offing for promoting the Delhi Games through the baton. A mammoth task considering around 200 cities and villages form ports of call for the baton’s journey.
Interestingly, the baton will be accompanied by three escort runners who are armed forces personnel, besides a crew of OC officials, and the baton bearers. The Indian Army is also pitching in with various forms of transport that will be used during the length of the trip helicopters, battle tanks, submarine and ship.
However, security will be provided by the state governments, said Kalmadi an important issue since the baton travels through some sensitive areas like Raipur where Naxal attacks have taken place in the recent past. The baton convoy, which consists of 25 vehicles, will have Hero Honda as the presentation partner, revealed OC officials.
Added Kalmadi, ‘‘The baton relay will have over 5,000 baton bearers, and we hope that people from all walks of life would participate in the relay.’’
The relay in India will start from the Wagah-Attari border and pass through Punjab and J&K, to travel on to Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It will reach Uttar Pradesh on July 8, and travel on to Patna in Bihar, and then on to Bagdogra. The northeast relay will commence from Bagdogra on July 15 and move towards Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.
On August 1, the baton will fly from Agartala to Kolkata. The journey will then continue through the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, and thereafter, move towards the southern states and visit Andhra Pradesh, traversing through the Andaman and Nicobar islands (Port Blair) via Chennai. It will then go to Kerala, fly down to Kavaratti in the Lakshwadeep Islands, and return back to Kochi.
In the final phase of the relay, the baton will visit Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and reach New Delhi on September 30.
During the 100-day national tour, the Queen’s Baton will visit the capital of each of India’s 28 states and seven union territories, apart from many other cities along the way, covering more than 20,000 kilometers. By the end of its journey, the baton will have traversed over 1,90,000 kilometers in 340 days, making the Queens Baton Relay 2010 Delhi one of the longest relays in the history of the Commonwealth Games.