Noisy fans create tensions
There's been daily, strong criticism in Delhi of the Commonwealth Games organisers' inability to sell enough tickets. Today, they're blaming sponsors for failing to use up their complimentary seats.
They certainly haven't denied reports that sackfuls of unused sponsors tickets have been seen being taken away from venues to be shredded. The Commonwealth Games Federation is investigating reports that people are queuing to buy tickets, only to be told there aren't any available for sessions they're interested in, and then later for those same sessions to remain half empty. The feeling is that's not just down to corporate no-shows.
Mike Fennell, the chairman of the Games Federation, says something is wrong, doesn't add up, and they want answers.
Crowds have been increasing, but so too have complaints from athletes about spectators not respecting their competitions.
Crowd noise has been identified as being responsible for false starts at the swimming and athletics, notably during the hugely controversial women's 100m final.
Oliver helped secure silver in the women's recurve. Photo: AFP
At the archery, a coach and horses has been driven through the conventions of spectating. Where normally there'd be silence as the archer draws the bow, there's been loud banter.
England's Amy Oliver said the chanting of "Come on India" as she took aim, in the women's team recurve event, was distracting. "The crowd was not good. They were pretty loud - it was not good sportsmanship for archery, " she said.
Her team-mate, the hugely experienced Alison Williamson, said: "I liken it to golf. You don't get people clapping and shouting when someone is teeing off."
At the pool, it has spilled over into a row that's now brought accusations of racism against a South African swimmer, Roland Schoeman. He narrowly avoided disqualification after a false start in the semi-finals of the men's 50m freestyle.
Afterwards, he angrily told Australian TV: "It's an absolute disgrace. There's a guy in the stands just shouting, shouting, shouting. Somebody like that needs to be ejected. It's unacceptable to be at a professional event like this and have people going on like monkeys. Someone like that doesn't deserve to be here."
The gap between what he might have intended, and how his words are being interpreted, is growing.
I was at the squash finals, where a decent-sized, and knowledgeable crowd, (significantly less than the claimed sell-out,) created a great atmosphere and only once had to be admonished by the announcer for inappropriate "interventions."
Fennell says this is a problem everywhere, not just in India, and that the announcers and commentators at the venues have to take the initiative.
"This is a key issue," he said. "We do have specialist sports presenters and it's a matter within the sports presentation, the information they give, how they ensure that the crowd keeps quiet at the appropriate times.
"Sometimes it's a bit of a struggle, but we do continuously ask the sports presenters to pay attention to these matters.... if you require absolute quiet at sensitive moments during the course of the competition, the presenters should do their best to try to ensure quiet at that time."
Athletes, the organisers, broadcasters and the federation all want crowds, but sometimes it seems, we have to be careful what we wish for...