On Saturday, the eve of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, tickets are still available. It is not as if there isn't a demand. The speed at which the ones priced Rs 5000 and Rs 1000 were sold off was proof enough. But the ones available for Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 are way beyond the common man and remain unsold.
Looking at the success of the Indian Premier League's high-priced tickets, the Organising Committee (OC) must have got carried away. But then, people were ready to dish out Rs 40,000 for an IPL ticket as it had an added incentive of interaction with cricketers, and cricket is religion in India.
So now the OC, apprehending that the VIP stands of the Jawaharlal Stadium could go empty on Sunday evening, has started distributing them. Even then, some of the VIPs are not very happy. Sources confirmed that VIPs from Pune, hometown of the chairman of the OC Suresh Kalmadi, are being given preference.
The sight of VIPs, many of them khadi-clad politicians, queuing up at the ninth floor in the OC office looking for free tickets appeared queer.
According to an OC official, this could help OC save face by showing to the world that India is really interested in the Games. “In fact, we couldn't sell high-priced tickets and empty stands in the VIP gallery would paint a bad image of India. I think we will have to distribute free tickets for the closing ceremony too. As of now thousands of tickets for the closing ceremony are unsold. But the Rs 750 tickets are sold out,” said an OC official.
But this would certainly not help the OC manage adequate funds to repay the government its loan of Rs 1600 crore. The sale of tickets and sponsorships are the OC's two crucial modes of generating funds.
The huge work force and other key people involved in the preparations of the Games for the last many months are being denied free tickets. “We are part of the OC for sometime now, but getting no chance to watch the opening ceremony. It's humiliating. What VIPs have done for the Games, and why only they are eligible for free tickets?” said a work force executive, preferring anonymity.