London 2012 Olympics: Team India sees red as mystery woman gatecrashes parade
A MYSTERY gatecrasher dressed in red caused embarrassment to the Olympic Games organisers when it emerged she invited herself on to the athletes’ parade alongside the Indian team at the opening ceremony.
Indian officials were upset after their team’s big moment was gatecrashed and demanded answers from organisers about the apparent lack of security.
The woman in red and blue walked close to flag-bearing wrestler Sushil Kumar on Friday, in stark contrast to female members of the contingent who were wearing yellow saris and blue blazers.
“How did they allow her in?” asked Indian Olympic Association vice-president Tarlochan Singh. “It was a security lapse. Nobody knows who she was.
“She looks like an Indian. She walked along in the front line. Her dress was totally different. She was not wearing an identity card. This should have been noticed at an earlier stage, but nobody bothered.”
But Games organisers yesterday downplayed security concerns around the unscripted moment, saying the interloper was a ceremony cast member and had been screened before entering the Olympic Park.
Indian media identified her as Madhura Nagendra, a graduate student from the southern city of Bangalore, who had been living in London.
Her father, K Nagendra, was quoted as saying his daughter had been chosen to dance in director Danny Boyle’s ceremony and speculated that she might have been asked by organisers to escort India’s team into the stadium.
“This might have hurt our team’s feelings. I feel very sorry for that,” Mr Nagendra was quoted as saying.
The mystery woman case dominated Indian media’s coverage of the opening of the Games.
“Who’s That Girl?” asked the front page of the Hindustan Times.
“Leaky London: Unaccounted presence in march past,” said a headline in the Times of India. The newspaper said the mystery woman had “brazenly gatecrashed the party, raising security concerns and adding to the anger over India’s blink-and-miss appearance on global TV screens.”
Harpal Singh Bedi, the Indian Olympic team press attache said India’s acting chef de mission, PKM Raja, had sent Games organisers an official letter of complaint. “I think this is definitely a security lapse,” Mr Bedi said.
But London 2012 chairman Lord Coe insisted the woman had not posed a threat, describing her as “a cast member who clearly got slightly over-excited.”
He added: “We had suspected she was probably a member of the cast but she clearly started in that venue and we will be speaking to the Indian delegation about that.
“She shouldn’t have been on the parade and we will look into that the next time we have an opening ceremony.”
Some 10,000 volunteers performed alongside professional musicians, actors and dancers in the spectacular ceremony.
Lord Coe stressed the woman had been screened to get into Olympic Stadium.
“Don’t run away with the idea that she walked in off the street,” he said, adding that Games officials “will have our own discussions” about the incident.
Meanwhile a political row has blown up over a Brazilian environmental campaigner being chosen to carry the Olympic flag in the opening ceremony.
Marina Silva is a high-profile campaigner for the protection of the Amazon rainforests but is also the leader of a political party opposed to the current Brazil government.
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