For the first time in weeks, guards at the Delhi government-run Thyagraj Stadium didn’t start blowing whistles at 6.30 pm for athletes to leave the arena, cutting short their training.
On Thursday, after The Indian Express reported on how the arena was being cleared early, by 7 pm, so that Delhi’s Principal Secretary (Revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar can walk his dog on the tracks later, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal issued an order for all sporting facilities in the city to remain open till 10 pm.
“The matter came to me today morning. Due to the heat and rising temperature, sportspersons are facing problems in continuing training and the stadium closes by 6 pm. So, we have decided to allow all stadiums under the Delhi Government to stay open till 10 pm,” Kejriwal said.
Posting an image of The Indian Express report, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted: “News reports have brought to our notice that certain sports facilities are being closed early causing inconvenience to sportsmen who wish to play till late night. CM Arvind Kejriwal has directed that all Delhi government sports facilities stay open for sportsmen till 10 pm.”
The Indian Express report had highlighted the grievance of coaches and their trainees. “We used to train till 8-8.30 pm under lights earlier. But now, we are asked to leave the ground by 7 pm so that the officer can walk his dog on the ground. Our training and practice routine has been disrupted,” a coach had said.
On Thursday evening, The Indian Express was at the stadium, where trainees took their time to cool down and were not in a rush to leave. “It is good that the stadium is open till late now. We have enough time to train,” a junior athlete said. Khirwar did not turn up.
Stadium administrator Ajit Chaudhary, who had earlier told this newspaper that the facility was open only from 4 pm to 6 pm and that he wasn’t aware of who used it after 7 pm, did not respond to calls from The Indian Express on Thursday.
A Delhi government official said: “On seeing the news report in the morning, the Chief Minister took the only course of action he could and ordered that stadiums remain open till 10 pm so that athletes don’t have to suffer. Since the services departments, like land, law and order and police, come under the Centre via the L-G, transfers, postings, grievances as well as disciplinary action also come under him. The Delhi government cannot take action in this matter.”
Thyagraj Stadium, which was built for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is a centrally located multi-discipline sporting complex.