Organisers of the just-concluded Commonwealth Games may boast of holding a world-class sporting extravaganza, but the disabled and activists working in this area have said that the event was far from being friendly towards their participation.
Even though the Organising Committee had set aside 0.5 per cent of the overall tickets for the differently-abled, officials admit that hardly any ticket was sold in this category during the 12-day sports fest.
"The games was not at all barrier free. The website of the Delhi CWG 2010 had only half a page of information on facilities provided for disabled spectators visiting the various venues, whereas the website for the Melbourne Games, held four years ago, had pages and pages of precise information," lamented Javed Abidi, a leading activist working for the physically challenged.
Unable to get any information from the website or call centres set up by the Organising Committee, he initially wrote a letter to its chairman Suresh Kalmadi urging him to have better facilities for disabled persons visiting the stadia.
"However, he did not reply to my letter and I decided to boycott the opening ceremony and returned my invitation as a mark of protest," said Abidi, who heads the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.
Wheelchair-bound people who were keen to watch events of both regular and differently-abled athletes were also dismayed that the organisers of the biggest sporting event India hosted in over two decades had set up only one counter for them to buy tickets in the national capital.
"How and why should disabled people from across Delhi, NCR, Gurgaon go all the way to Tolstoy marg, make their way up to the first floor to buy tickets," asked Arun Sodhi, a wheelchair-bound former athlete who promotes disabled athletes.
Despite several attempts by PTI, Secretary General of the OC Lalit Bhanot did not respond to calls for a comment on the arrangements made for disabled spectators at the stadia.
A senior official of the OC who did not wish to be named said the ticket sales for disabled spectators were next to none.
Admitting that the OC had not made the best arrangements for the differently-abled spectators, director (ticketing) Monica Jolly said "hardly a ticket was sold in this category. The bookings were mainly handled through the call centres. But, it could have been done in a more planned manner and we will keep this in mind for future".