India promises a safe, successful Commonwealth Games
The 2010 Commonwealth Games were set for a grand opening in New Delhi with authorities making final preparations Saturday as the city was placed on high alert amid terrorist threats to the event, reported dpa.
The event in its 19th and biggest-ever edition is due to be inaugurated at the city's Jawaharlal Nehru stadium on Sunday evening before an estimated 65,000 spectators.
After much criticism of corruption and shoddy infrastructure at the event venues, organizers claim all problems have been sorted out for hosting the games that will see the participation of thousands of athletes and team officials.
Earlier on Saturday, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee arrived in New Delhi to attend the inauguration as a special invitee.
In a press conference, Delhi Police Commissioner YS Dadwal assured that "multi-dimensional" security arrangements were in place for the October 3-14 event.
A total of 100,000 security personnel including commandos have been deployed to thwart any threat - some 29,000 policemen would guard games venues alone.
"It is a moment of great challenge for Delhi police and we will leave no stone unturned," Dadwal said.
Snipers will guard vantage positions and helicopters and drones will provide aerial security while markets and cinemas will be closed on the opening and the closing day of the games, police said.
Security agencies say Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group, could pose the biggest threat in Delhi which has seen at least two major serial bomb attacks, one in 2008 and the other in 2004.
Meanwhile, organizing committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot promised a "successful and smooth delivery of the games".
More than 6,700 athletes and team officials from 71 countries will vie for 829 medals at stake in 17 disciplines.
"We are pleased that Delhi 2010 will be the biggest-ever Commonwealth Games," Bhanot said in a statement. The 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games saw the participation of 5,766 athletes and officials.
Bhanot's assertion came after weeks of crisis and uncertainty with teams postponing their arrival on account of poor standards of the athletes' village and games infrastructure.
The successful conduct of the sporting event has emerged as one of the biggest challenges for the Asian nation emerging as an economic power after years of poverty and underdevelopment.
The Commonwealth Games, primarily limited to former British colonies is being held in Asia for the second time - with Kuala Lumpur organizing the games in 1998.
It is the third time that India is holding a multi-sports extravaganza after the successful conduct of the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982.