Tickets for the opening ceremony are being sold by the organisers of the Commonwealth Games for as much as Rs 50,000 a pop. But when it comes to the welfare of the over 3000 artistes performing at the ceremony, it seems no such extravagant measures are being taken.
On Wednesday, many performers left the main venue, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, because they had spent hours at rehearsal without as much as a meal.
HT spoke to a number of young performers, many of them school kids. They all complained about the lack of food, overcrowding at the venue and having to wait for hours on end.
“When water bottles were finally distributed at the venue, the scene looked like what you see on the news when food is given out at refugee camps. There were hundreds of people trying to grab the few bottles that were available,” said a group from the north-east who did not want to be named.
A senior dancer told HT, “Those who were lucky enough to receive the packed breakfast got two slices of bread with a hint of jam in between, one banana, and a drink. How they expect us to keep going on that, I have no idea.”
Special director general, ceremonies, and renowned Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan had to make a rushed trip to the Parade Ground, a practice venue for the performers, to pacify the artistes.
Over 600 performers are staying at the Parade Ground, and they complained about not getting breakfast at all before they had to leave for Nehru Stadium. When contacted, Narayan said she was not authorised to comment on the subject.
Sources who have been inside the venue during the practice sessions told the Hindustan Times that a number of the performers, particularly young girls, could not cope with the conditions, and there were several cases of dehydration and fatigue for the medical staff to handle.
OC secretary-general Lalit Bhanot said: “Yes, there was a problem but it has been sorted out. There was food but the problem was with the distribution.”
Another OC official said: “Some of the children fainted on Thursday as well even when there was food.This was probably because of the sun.”
The opening ceremony will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday, and thousands of performing artistes from all over the country have been brought in for the curtain raiser.