London: The London Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) yesterday apologised to the Indian contingent over the issue of an unidentified woman gatecrashing into the team’s march past at the Opening Ceremony here on Friday, terming the incident as “unfortunate”.
Angry at the “mystery” woman’s presence with the contingent during the opening gala, India had shot off a letter to the LOCOG.
In a letter to India’s acting Chef-de-Mission PK Muralidharan Raja, James Macleod, the head of the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee (NPC) Services and Relations, said “it was regretful that such an incident occurred”.
“Our Chairman has asked me to extend a sincere apology for the unfortunate incident that occured during the Opening Ceremony. Our team at LOGOC are aware that a lady joined the Indian delegation during their entry into the stadium and we have taken this matter very seriously,” Macleod said in his letter to Raja.
“The athlete’s parade is a huge privilege for those who march and we recognise the importance of this moment for the athletes and therefore it was regretful that this incident occurred.”
Macleod, however, said that there was no security lapse from the organisers and the woman in question had a valid accreditation which has now been cancelled.
“Our security teams have explained to us that the person in question did in fact have a valid accreditation and was therefore able to access the tunnel prior to the field of play. We have taken the appropriate measures to address this issue with our security teams and also removed the accreditation from the person concerned,” he said.
Earlier, a source in the Indian contingent confirmed that they have received an apology from the organisers.
“We have recieved a letter from the London Games organisers apologising over the incident,” the source said.
The woman in red shirt and blue trouser, later identified as Madhura Nagendra, a post-graduate from Bangalore, had caused a flutter during the opening ceremony as she hogged the limelight by walking along with the flagbearer Sushil Kumar and waving to the crowd.
The Indians were understandably agitated that a person who was not part of the delegation was allowed to accompany the team and hog the limelight in the process.
“She had no business to walk with the Indian contingent. We don’t know who she is and why she was allowed to walk in. It is a shame that she was with the athletes in the march past,” Indian contingent’s acting Chef-de-Mission Muralidharan Raja had said.
LOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe had sought to cool down the frayed tempers among the Indians, saying that he would meet with the Indian delegation to discuss the matter.
“I was told about it. She sort of made it into the Opening Ceremony. She was a cast member who clearly got slightly overexcited. She shouldn’t have been there,” Coe said yesterday.
“There is a very important point to take into consideration here. I don’t minimise the fact that she got in Opening Ceremony. We will have our own discussion about that,” he added.
Coe had, however, insisted that the unidentified woman posed no danger to the Indian team or the proceedings because, as a cast member for the opening ceremony, she had to go through all the security checks that everyone else does to get into the Olympic Stadium.
“She could not have got into the Olympic Park without having gone through our security protocols. They seem to have run away with the idea that she just walked of the street and onto the Opening Ceremony. We are looking into it. She should not have been there,” Coe had said.