COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Fennell concerned by empty venues
COMMONWEALTH Games Federation president Mike Fennell has raised the issue of poor ticket sales with embattled organisers.
CONCERNED: Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell has raised his concerns about poor ticket sales with organising commitee (Reuters)
Despite a sell-out and much-praised opening ceremony, the first day of competition saw row upon row of empty seats with reports the computerised ticket system had broken down at some venues.
Fennell, who sharply criticised Delhi 2010 officials in the build-up to the Games, raised the issue with organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi at this morning's daily meeting.
The strained relationship between Kalmadi, who was roundly booed during the opening ceremony for his hapless stewardship of the Games, and officials from the Commonwealth Games Federation was obvious during their first daily news conference.
They contradicted each other at several points and as issue after issue was put to Kalmadi, he repeatedly insisted the problem would be solved 'by tomorrow'.
"The area that causes us concern is ticketing. It was clear a number of venues didn't have many spectators, we are working with the organising committee on that and they are very conscious of that situation. As a Games we want to know that the seats are filled.
"We are happy with the start of the Games but we have a number of days of competition and it's not over until it's over."
However, Kalmadi insisted tickets sales were starting to pick up.
"Hopefully this situation has been rectified and all the venues will be able to sell their tickets," he said.
"There is great interest in tickets, it won't be a problem.
"We are working on maybe getting children from schools to attend and also distributing tickets to the lower level of society.
"All the ticket stores have now been installed and there are long queues."
However, despite his optimism there is little evidence of this enthusiasm among locals with reports that some ticket stalls remain closed and no evidence of the 'mile long' queues Kalmadi claimed.
Meanwhile, CGF chief executive Michael Hooper responded to allegations in the Indian press he had lived a lavish lifestyle while staying in the city to oversee preparations, leading to an effigy of the New Zealander being burned in the street.
"It was upsetting personally but I won't dwell on it," he said.
"But do I feel safe in Delhi? Yes I do.
"As regard my lifestyle here, there have been lots of numbers bandied around but it's not true - unfortunately for me."