The controversy over the starting time of opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is finally over. In what is a setback for the Organizing Committee (OC) of the Games, the ceremony will now start in the evening after sunset.
The Group of Ministers (GOM) on Saturday decided to start the programme at 7 pm on October 3. TOI had reported last week that the Games’ Organizing Committee (OC) was keen on a 5.30 pm start owing to its broadcast deal, struck in 2008, with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This had been out rightly rejected by the ‘creative group’ comprising Bharat Bala, Shyam Benegal, Prasoon Joshi and Javed Akhtar which is putting together the cultural programmes for the opening and closing ceremonies.
“The GOM had a long and productive meeting. The opening ceremony will begin at 7 pm. It was decided by all of us. There was a pretty comprehensive presentation on the opening as well as closing ceremony by the creative group in charge and we are satisfied with what we saw,” sports minister MS Gill told reporters after the meeting which was also attended by lieutenant governor Tejendra Khanna and chief minister Sheila Dikshit besides OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi.
This decision came a huge boost for the creative group which had earlier told the OC that it was too late to change the plans and begin the show at 5.30pm. The group was worried that any change in the original plan to have it at 7.30 pm would ruin the laser show and the special effects.
Gill did not reveal whether the march past by the athletes, which is part of the opening ceremony, would start before 7pm. But Benegal, a member of the creative group, revealed that opening ceremony would last two and half hours and include everything.
“The event will include everything, from protocol to other formal things in the (cultural) show,” said Benegal adding that the controversy surrounding the time has been put to rest. “”Why get into it now? There were some issues and they have been resolved. No point getting into those as there are no more problems.”
When asked whether five months would be enough time to prepare for the opening ceremony, another member of the group, Prasoon Joshi said: “India always works hard and surprises people. This time we all will do it.”
Kalmadi also said that the issues relating to the time of the event have been “sorted out.”
It has been, for the time being, but it remains to be seen whether OC’s deal with the ABC will be affected by this decision or not.