India Sports
Pressure from PMO forces Delhi stadiums to reopen
Apr 23, 2007 - 9:57:05 PM

New Delhi, April 23 - It took a word from the Prime Minister's Office - to restart training that had been stopped for renovation of two premier stadiums for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The stadiums were closed down March 31 for massive renovation for the games.

'We received an order from the Sports Authority of India - Thursday to reopen training facilities at the National Stadium and at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Pool,' Manjeet Singh Bains, administrator of the National Stadium, told IANS Monday.

'Barring boxing and swimming, training in cricket, hockey and tennis restarted today. Swimming has started again at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Pool today,' he said.

Bains said that the activities would remain open till June 30.

Pressure from coaches, parents of the hundreds of trainees, MPs and word from the PMO to the sports ministry forced SAI to change its decision and open the facilities at a time when children are soon going to have the summer vacation.

'A resourceful personal assistant of a resourceful MP convinced about 20 MPs to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue,' a well-informed source told IANS.

'Then, the PMO apparently sent a word to the sports ministry, which asked the SAI to reopen the training facilities,' he said on condition of anonymity.

School children who returned to training Monday could not hide their anger at the closure of the facilities.

'We don't know what will happen to us after June. Our future is in the dark after the government took the decision to close down this stadium,' said Deepak Arora -, a cricket trainee at the National Stadium.

'We even don't know if the government is going to extend this date, and if not whether we will be shifted to any other coaching centre,' he said.

Hockey trainees were as disappointed with the decision to close the stadiums.

'We were crestfallen when we got the news that our academy will be closed down. But now there is a glimmer of hope that the government may still decide something about our training,' said Jatin Sharma -, one of the 50-plus hockey trainees.

'The government has decided to do all this for the games, but in the process they are risking the future of the kids who train at this stadium,' said Kaushik Mehta -.

The coaches at the academy are also not sure of their future.

'We feel very sad for the trainees even we don't know where we will go if the stadium is closed down,' said cricket coach M.P. Singh.

Around 150 trainees including 30 girls are enrolled in the cricket academy, he said.

'We are hopeful that the government will take some steps to help the academies run smoothly -. They have said that for the renovation work heavy machines would be used and that can cause accidents. But that is not a reason as the cricket academy is outside the main building,' said women's cricket coach Sunita Sharma.

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