Even as India rake in gold medals at the 12th South Asian Games at Guwahati and Shillong, fans in both the venues are having a hard time getting tickets for the events.
While the Games organising committee claimed people are not getting tickets in counter since most are sold online, in many events even during finals, stands are found empty. “It is not like everywhere stands are empty. We are getting spectators. The tickets for the India-Pakistan hockey match were sold out long back. Now if people buy tickets online and do not turn up in the stadium, then what can we do?” asked Avinash Joshi, the Joint CEO of the organising committee.
At many venues across Guwahati, several people were seen queuing up in front of ticket counters. “I am a squash fan. I wanted to see the squash finals. I tried booking online, it said sold out. At the counter I could not get tickets. I am disappointed. There was no publicity from the organising committee where we will get tickets. But then we get to hear that the stands are empty,” said Sumita Borah, a local fan.
Indeed, many seats were empty during the squash finals. “I do not understand where are all the tickets going. I have been going around all venues. People are looking for tickets but the organisers say it is sold out. Today in squash, all I could see were security forces, organisers, volunteers, participants, media and some with VIP passes and complementary passes,” said a senior Guwahati Police official.
Sources said there was rift in the organising committee on the matter. “Although marketing is our mandate, senior officers from New Delhi have kept the tickets under their control. What we are told is that most of the tickets are kept for online sales. Thus common people are not getting tickets at the counters. Moreover extra complementary tickets have been distributed since elections are round the corner,” revealed a senior official from the marketing team on condition of anonymity.
It is not smooth sailing for those who have bought tickets online as well, as they are facing lot of harassment while redeeming the tickets. The committee had asked them to redeem the tickets a day earlier, forcing them to go to the stadium twice.
On Monday, a few spectators protested after the wrestling matches started ahead of the time printed on the tickets. Apparently, no efforts had been made to inform the fans about the change of timings.