New Delhi: With only four days to go to the opening of the troubled Delhi Commonwealth Games, thousands of tickets are still unsold, even for the opening and closing ceremonies and 100-metre finals.
Tickets for the showpiece event, which begins Sunday, are still on offer in the cheapest categories (Rs200, $4) for most sports.
Cheap tickets have sold out for the opening and closing ceremonies, but are still available in the middle and higher categories priced at Rs1,000-50,000, the Games’ main ticket website shows.
For the 100-metre finals on 7 October, normally the highlight of the athletics competition, tickets are on sale in all categories -- perhaps reflecting the absence of star sprinter Usain Bolt who decided not to attend.
For the swimming, another highlight of the Games, seats in the Rs1,000 high category for the final day on 9 October are on sale, while all categories are available for the finals on the previous Friday.
“Sales have picked up a bit in the last 10 days,” a saleswoman in the official telesales service told AFP.
In total, there are more than two million tickets available for the 3-14 October event, which brings together countries and territories mostly in the former British empire.
Organisers have struggled to convince Delhi residents of the benefits of the Games, which have resulted in major upheavals in the city amid widespread criticism over corruption and shambolic organisation.
Many middle-class citizens have decided to take up “Commonwealth Escape Packages” being offered by city travel agents.
The tickets are also expensive in a country where two thirds of the 1.2-billion population live on less than two dollars a day, according to a World Bank study released in 2008.
A number of pull-outs by world sporting stars has also left the event thin on crowd-pullers.
World 800m champion Caster Semenya from South Africa became the latest to withdraw because of a back injury.