Photos tell crowd story
It has been a nagging theme in the first three days of the Commonwealth Games that the number of spectators at events has been very low.
While reports, and indeed my own experience, of low numbers have been passed on to the organising committee, they generally have not seemed unduly concerned and have continually replied that spectator numbers are increasing.
The OC chairman, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, has even claimed that there have been queues of spectators at all the venues, a feature either unnoticed or unreported by the media in Delhi.
With the mission to try to evaluate the state of spectator numbers and ticket sales on day three of the Games I went to the OC's media conference on Wednesday morning to ask whether they had seen any change in demand for tickets.
Mr Kalmadi was asked to make some preliminary comments and noted that Tuesday's sessions of wrestling and boxing were packed, that 50,000 tickets were sold and that hockey, swimming and athletics were selling well.
I asked a question and here is the exchange:
MP - I was at the shooting venue yesterday to see Abhinav Bindra win the first gold medal for India. It was fantastic to be there. This is a question for Mr Kalmadi: There were only 30 spectators. Given the interest for Mr Bindra and his national hero status I wondered if you had a comment?
Suresh Kalmadi- I don't think there were 30 spectators. I was there myself and there were a few hundred. Please, I was there myself so I tell you there were a few hundred.
MP - I can give you the pictures, Sir. We can count them together if you like.
SK - OK. If you take the section of spectators then I don't know, I can tell you there were a few hundred spectators or people there.
MP - Ticket-holders?
SK - Yes ticket-holders.
MP - Rather than accredited media personnel? Let's be clear.
SK - There were a lot of ticket-holders there. I can get back to you with more details if you like.
MP - I'd be delighted.
Here are some screen-grabs taken from our filming at the shooting venue on the day in question:
This is the section of spectators that I was talking about. These are the ticket-holders that turned up and they were sitting together. There are less than 40 of them.
Here you can see Abhinav Bindra talking to his coach in the middle of the competition. You can see just how close the spectators are to the action - the lucky few.
Here finally is the coach congratulating Bindra's partner Gagan Narang on his gold medal - there are no paying spectators further down the range.
On a less argumentative note to finish, as I visited other venues later on Wednesday, I saw women's hockey have a good day with around 1,000 watching holders Australia take on hosts India.
The athletics in the evening had the biggest turnout of the Games so far with an estimated 6,000 at the stadium. Let's hope the trend continues.