'We are ready to host the games'
Amid apprehensions about the quality of the venues and preparedness of sporting facilities, the Commonwealth Games organisers declared that all venues for the mega-event are ready and the Games would be a huge success. Take a look at the venues.
The authorities showed off new venues in the face of a storm of media criticism amid worries the Games, a showcase for this emerging global giant, could be a disaster.
"I am sorry to disappoint you, but the stadium is 100 percent ready. Everything is on time," Suresh Kalmadi, Organising Committee chairman, told reporters on a tour of the main Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as labourers put down their tools to wave from the rafters above.
"All the venues are ready. I would like to tell you, there were grave apprehensions, but we told you that all the venues would be ready. There was rainfall, there were problems, but we are ready to host the games," he added.
Image: Labourers work inside the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, one of the venues for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi
Nehru stadium shines bright again
The Organising Committee (OC) took a large group of mediapersons for a guided tour to the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium along with the other venues on Monday.
The venue will host the opening and closing ceremonies and also the main athletic events.
"It has been raining continuously since evening but we have covered the field areas and there is no damage to the infrastructure here. This proves that we are absolutely ready for the games," OC secretary-general Lalit Bhanot said.
The stadium boasts of a seating capacity of 60,000. It has a 10-lane synthetic athletic track, one hold-up area and two warm-up areas which is capable of holding up to 1,000 athletes.
Image: The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
'No ordinary balloon but a piece of technology'
The main attraction point in the stadium is the aerostat balloon, which was bought from for Rs 40 crore.
The balloon, which will be positioned at a height of 30 metres, will have light reflectors helping to give special effects during the opening and closing ceremonies. It will also projected video content, including animation and graphics and will be be synchronised with the events that will be taking place during the opening and closing ceremonies.
OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi called the aerostat as: "no ordinary balloon but a piece of technology and art."
Bhanot tried to defend the huge cost of the aerostat, saying whe it comes to a mega event like the Commonwealth Games one should not worry about money.
"To organise an event of this stature, there will be expenses incurred. But it is important to understand that the Delhi Games will be watched by more than 3 million people all over the world and India's image will be at stake," said Bhanot.
Image: The giant aerostat inside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium
World-class facilities for badminton
The Siri Fort Sports Complex, which would host the squash and badminton events, has been turned into a world-class facility at a cost of around Rs. 2.5 billion.
The race to be ready for the games has now come down to the wire, but finally India seems to be inching close to hosting a successful Commonwealth Games.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games, which kicks off on October 3, is India's biggest sporting event since the 1982 Asian Games.
India is expecting about two million tourists in New Delhi for the Games, as well as about 10,000 athletes from 71 teams representing 54 Commonwealth member states.
Image: The badminton courts inside the Siri Fort Sports Complex
Hockey stadium will impress everyone
The field hockey competition will be held at the Major Dhyanchand Stadium, which also hosted the Hockey World Cup earlier this year.
Former Indian hockey captain Zafar Iqbal, who is the administrator for the Dhyanchand Stadium, said the stadium will impress both the players and fans.
"It has a capacity of about 19,000 people. We are privileged to have three-tier parking below this ground for 400 cars. Also, there are floodlights," Iqbal said.
Image: A policeman at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium
'Each stadium is better than the other'
The Squash stadium boasts of state-of-the-art four sided glass court that can be expanded into a doubles court automatically.
"At this venue, we can hold the event in only a couple of hours' notice. At some others, even a day's notice is enough to make it Games' ready. I can't say which stadium is better. Each one is better than the other," claimed Kalmadi.
Image: The Squash stadium inside the Siri Fort Sports Complex
'Our Indian boxers will do very well'
The boxing facility at the state-of-the-art Talkatora Stadium, built at Rs 1.5 billion, is all set for the event.
India has high hopes of medals from its boxers and the facility at the boxing venue would sure give a boost to those aspirations.
"We have got 241 entries from 48 countries. Very good entries in all 10 weight categories, we have got very stiff competition, but our Indian team will do very well," said an official at the venue.
Image: The Talkatora Boxing Stadium
The only fully green stadium in the world
The Thyagaraj Sports Complex, purpose-built in two and a half years at a cost of $64.5 million will host the netball competition. The impressive facility has been fully tested and is prepared.
Organisers said environmental conservation was one of the driving forces behind their planning and execution of the games infrastructure and Thyagaraj stadium.
"The stadium is a fully green stadium. It is the only fully green stadium in the world. In that respect, it has a rain-harvesting roof, it has a gas turbine that controls the electricity and air-conditioning," said Carmel Wright, competition manager of netball.
Image: The Thyagaraj Sports Complex
Work still going on at Aquatic Centre
The aquatics events will be hosted at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium which has been refurbished at a cost of Rs. 3.77 billion.
Though the swimming pools at the well-lit facility looked ready to take a dive but the work at this venue is still a few days away from completion, with nearly 15 days to go.
The pools had also come under a lot of criticism during the test event in July because of some basic technical flaws in the structure. There is no lift for the divers to reach the board, the staircases leading to the top are cramped, while the ceiling at the warm-up area is too low.
Image: The Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Complex
'The best Games villages that anyone has seen'
OC chairman Kalmadi claimed the standard of training facilities available at the Delhi Games village, built over 63.5 hectares across the Yamuna river from the city, is best in the world.
"The standard of training facilities that are available here are not available anywhere else in the world. This is one of the best Games villages that anyone has seen," Kalmadi said.
"All the facilities in the Village are top class and I am sure the athletes are going to love it.
"The training areas comprising of the swimming pool, athletic track, gymnasium, weightlifting and wrestling areas are simply wonderful. In a Games Village, generally, all these facilities are not available at such a large scale," he added.
Putting to rest all rumours about the readiness of the Games Village, Kalmadi, himself led the media contingent to the various parts of the Games Village.
"The whole village is ready. The international, the training centres and the accommodations are all in place. The Games Village will open from September 23 and we will have a lot of athletes coming in on September 23, 24 and 25 and they will continue to come till October 2," said Kalmadi.
Image: The Commonwealth Games Village