Games chief thanks Princess Diana for attending

ITN News

by ITN News

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Delhi Commonwealth Games chief Suresh Kalmadi has thanked Princess Diana for being at the opening ceremony, despite the fact she died in a car crash in 1997.

The blundering chairman of the organising committee made the faux pas at a press conference to update reporters on the troubled Games' progress.

"Yes, Princess Diana was there," he said before correcting himself quickly. "Prince Charles and [Camilla] the Duchess of Cornwall. Now they have gone off and they appreciated all the efforts made here."

Kalmadi also brushed aside a string of problems with transport, a lack of spectators, food and security delays, saying everything would be resolved within 24 hours.

In a sometimes farcical news conference, Kalmadi admitted some venues had been without ticket booths for the first day of of competition but denied the scandal-hit preparations for the event had contributed to low attendances.

Organisers had sold 600,000 of the 1.5 million available tickets for the 12 days of the Games, Kalmadi said, and busing in schoolchildren to fill the empty seats was being considered.

"Ticket box offices are now in place at every stadium," said Kalmadi, who was booed by the crowd at Sunday's opening ceremony. "There were problems with transport and food because of security reasons.

"We have sorted out many issues that were there, all the other issues will be addressed by tomorrow," he added.

"That's the deadline for everything, like we had a deadline for the athletes' village," he concluded to roars of laughter.