'No row' over Delhi Games opening

  • Published
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Image caption,
Prince Charles is due to arrive in Delhi this Saturday

There is no row over Prince Charles's role in the opening of the Commonwealth Games on Sunday, British diplomatic sources have said.

There had earlier been confusion but the sources insisted the prince and the Indian president were working together.

Indian media say the prince will read a statement from the Queen and Indian President Pratibha Patil will then say "let the Games begin".

Delhi has suffered a number of setbacks ahead of the opening of the Games.

There had appeared to be conflicting comments over the opening of the event.

The Prince of Wales's office said he, as the Queen's representative, would open the event.

As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen would normally open the Games, but Buckingham Palace said in May that she was too busy to attend this year.

India's ANI news agency quoted unnamed government sources as saying that in protocol terms it should be President Patil who inaugurated the event.

Image caption,
Preparations for the Games have been marred by a series of high-profile setbacks

A spokeswoman for Clarence House, Prince Charles's official residence, told the BBC: "There is no row. Both the Prince of Wales and the president of India will have a prominent role in the opening ceremony in Delhi.

"The Queen has asked the Prince of Wales to represent her at the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

"We cannot be specific about the choreography, but the prince will read out the Queen's baton message, ending by declaring the Games open.‪‪"

India media report that President Patil will then speak and say "let the Games begin".

President Patil and the Queen together launched the Queen's Baton Relay last October in a ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.

The baton - which has travelled to Commonwealth countries around the world - will arrive in Delhi for Sunday's opening ceremony.

'Undiplomatic remark'

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has denied criticising India for the setbacks that have overshadowed the build-up to the event.

CGF chief executive Mike Hooper told the BBC on Sunday his organisation was not to blame for the problems, adding: "These people just did not understand, or seem to accept the magnitude of the problem."

On Monday, CGF president Mike Fennell defended his colleague's comments.

In a statement, he said: "Far from any emotive commentary, Mr Hooper merely stated the fact that the responsibility for delivering and operating the Games lies with authorities in India, as per the host city contract."

Mr Fennell also denied media claims that Mr Hooper had said there was a "population hazard" in Delhi, as he asked Indian officials for 24-hour Games traffic lanes to be operational on the city's roads during the October 3 to 14 event.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said Mr Hooper had made "a very unkind and undiplomatic remark".

Mr Fennell said Mr Hooper had been the victim of a "vicious and totally unwarranted attack" from the Indian media.

Meanwhile, Lloyd's of London has refused to insure against cancellation or disruption to the Games, according to the UK's Financial Times.

The insurance giant would not provide cover because of a lack of information about infrastructure and security, reports the newspaper.

Several teams delayed their departures to India last week because of concerns over the poor state of the athletes' village, while preparations have also been hit by failures in the construction of venues.

Last Tuesday a bridge at the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Games, collapsed leaving more than 20 people injured. A day later, part of the ceiling at the weightlifting arena fell in.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.