Organisers are not taking chances with hockey stadium

By Abhishek Roy, IANS
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NEW DELHI - Looking at the popularity of hockey in India and the strong field the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games attracted, the security agencies are leaving nothing to chance at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The stadium has 249 CCTV cameras and fire-resistant doors and will have 1,135 security personnel on duty. The venue has been given a facelift after the World Cup here in February to ensure incident-free competition.

The spectator-response has kept the organisers on their toes. About 45,000 tickets have been sold so far for the event, which will see 20 teams — 10 men and 10 women — competing.

Former India captain Zafar Iqbal, venue administrator, said the stadium, built in 1951 for the first Asian Games, will be ready for playing in the next couple of days and it will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Security has been the top priority. In the whole premises, 249 CCTV cameras have been put and and inside the main stadium there are 131 CCTVs. There is a separate room to monitor all the cameras and it will be managed by Delhi Police,” Zafar told IANS.

The stadium, which hosted the 1982 Asian Games and the World Cup early this year, has undergone critical infrastructural changes, essentially to ensure the safety of the venue and the spectators.

Additional lighting has been put in place to get better picture quality for the CCTV cameras.

For security reasons, Delhi Police have prohibited the use of the stadium’s underground parking system that can accomodate 400 vehicles.

“This is a truly world class stadium. Some compare it with the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Malaysia, but the speciality of the National Stadium is that it has a fusion of old and modern architecture. This is unheard of in any modern hockey stadium,” Zafar said.

“Since the World Cup, most of the work carried out is related to enhancing the security. At all the eight gates, we have set up a three-tier security system by constructing automatic pillars, tyre busters and bollards. The VIPs and the VVIPs will enter from the main gate and they will get direct entry into the stadium’s heritage block,” he said.

Zafar also said turnstiles will be set up at the gates to ensure holders of fake tickets are caught.

“The World Cup was a big eye opener for us. During the tournament we had tickets without barcodes and there was a fear of fake tickets. Now we have a centralised ticketing system and once the ticket is punched, the barcode will be automatically detected by the turnstile,” he said.

The dressing rooms too have refurbished.

“In the dressing room we will have a huge bath tub, which can hold 80 kg of ice, so that players can get an ice bath after the match. The ice would be replaced after each and every match,” Zafar said.

There are separate areas for medical, physiotherapy and dope control as well.

“Inside the dope control section, we have four processing areas. And special mirrors have been installed in the bathroom to make sure that everything is in order while submitting the samples,” Zafar said.

There are two practice pitches and matches for the women’s tournament will be played on one of them.

“On the second practice pitch, we have some women’s matches. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) wanted us to have temporary stands with a minimum 2,500 seating capacity. But we explained to them that we don’t expect such a huge turnout every day and we kept the seating capacity to just 750. We would be lucky even if 500 people turn up for the women’s matches,” said Zafar, adding that teams will also practice at the Yamuna Sports Complex since the Shivaji Stadium won’t be ready for the Games.

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